4 out of 4 stars
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Set against the backdrop of the Southern charm and politics of Louisiana, The Trial of Connor Padget by Carl Roberts is a legal suspense involving friendship, betrayal, kidnapping, murder, and courtroom drama. Jack Carney isn't a criminal attorney, but when his friend, Connor, is charged with murder, he is determined to represent him, despite the objections of his prestigious law firm and wife. Jack's involvement in the case triggers memories of his covert military missions in Japan, and the trial becomes a catalyst for changes that will affect his future regardless of the verdict.
Since Jack and the viewing public witness Connor shooting his son's kidnapper on the news, the reader is privy to the fact that he is guilty from the first page of this captivating plot. However, it's the story behind the motive that draws the reader in and keeps the suspense engaging.
Roberts cleverly employs a multilayered plot to aid in the development of complex and relatable characters. Throughout the book, Jack's memories of his flying missions and crewmates in Japan provide insight into his loyalty as a friend to Connor. He reminisces about simpler times with his wife, Adrienne, giving the reader clarity regarding his lack of enthusiasm about her latest project. Roberts' portrayal of the developing friendship between Jack and Connor's son, Scot, is endearing.
I particularly like the moral questions Roberts poses through Connor's crime and the friendship between the two men. How far would you go to protect your child? Would you take the law into your own hands if someone threatened your family? Would you jeopardize your job or marriage to help a friend? While it may be easy to rattle off the "right" answers to these questions, Roberts' intricate plot challenges readers to put themselves in Connor's place and ponder how they might react in similar circumstances.
There isn't anything I disliked about the book. However, I noted a few instances of dialogues that I found unrealistic. When Jack is speaking to Scot about his parents, he sometimes refers to them by their first names. For example, instead of saying, "Your dad may not be coming home again for a good while," Roberts writes, "Connor may not be coming home again for a good while," which comes across unnatural when speaking to an eleven-year-old boy.
Even so, the minor inconsistency didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. The editing is professional, and the instances of violence and sexual references are borderline and plot-related. However, there is some R-rated profanity. I'm pleased to rate this compelling legal suspense 4 out of 4 stars. The book will appeal to readers who enjoy legal thrillers and fans of John Grisham.
The Trial of Connor Padget
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