Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Redress of Grievances by Brenda Adcock

Publisher:            Regal Crest Enterprises

Brenda Adcock is beginning a new mystery series featuring Harriett Markham, a defense attorney in Austin, Texas. Years before, she won a case that had tragic consequences and resulted in her fleeing from a very prosperous law firm in Dallas where she was the rising star, and leaving behind her lover. Now, she's living a very quiet, but successful, life raising her niece Lacey and has left all of that behind…she thinks.

The book has a startling opening as an anonymous sniper kills an unsuspecting victim and the reader is allowed to listen inside the head of the shooter to the thought processes that are going on. That is juxtaposed with a scene of Harriett delivering her closing summation in a case that reflects the type of lawyer she has become. The story then opens up when Harriett receives a visit from her former lover, Alexis Dunne, who has a request. The sister of a prominent state senator has been accused of shooting out car windows on the highway and causing a series of deaths. The evidence against Sharon Taggert is pretty conclusive, and now she needs an attorney who can save her from the death penalty.

Because Alexis' law firm represents the senator, they want Harriett to take the case. She is reluctant to do that because it will drag her back into the life she left behind, but then she meets Sharon and realizes that she may not be responsible for her own actions. Despite the consequences to herself, she is determined to save this woman's life. What she doesn't realize at first is that her own life is in danger.

When Harriett begins to receive death threats, she is brought into contact with Jess Raines, a police officer who works in the Sex Offender Office. Jess's job is to figure out if Harriett and Lacey are in danger because of what Harriett is finding out about Sharon's past or if the threat is from a totally different source. Neither of them knows that Jared Wilkes, the man Harriett never should have gotten acquitted the first time he was tried, has been released from prison without the warning Harriett was promised she would receive. And Jared has an agenda of his own. Harriett will also find herself having to make a choice. Does she let Alexis back into her life or does she follow the new possibilities that are being opened to her by Jess?

Redress of Grievances is considered a mystery, but it also qualifies as a psychological study. Sharon's story involves rape and sexual abuse when she was younger and manifests itself in multiple personalities and homicidal behavior. Unraveling how she thinks and what motivates her is one of the most interesting parts of the book. Harriet has her own difficulties, though, dealing with her role as an attorney and the people she is called upon to defend. The Jared Wilkes' case left her damaged in ways that could end up costing her life.

Adcock weaves these characters' stories together with no jerky feeling to the action or story telling. Incidents flow from page to page in a way that keeps the suspense building on two fronts. There is a growing realization of what kind of person Sharon Taggert really is, meanwhile the stalker is moving closer to Harriett all the time. There is a hook in Sharon's story that comes completely from left field and adds a terrific punch to the story. Then there is a climatic ending involving Harriett that is guaranteed to cause chills.

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