In his debut novel, Lachlan Smith introduces young defense attorney Leo Maxwell. The ink on Leo’s bar card has barely dried when he’s sitting in a café with his brother Teddy. An unknown assailant walks in, shoots Teddy in the head and walks out.
Teddy Maxwell is a notorious defense attorney in San Francisco. Prosecutors and cops hate him; defendants love him. But was it an unhappy client who shot Teddy or arranged to have him shot? As Teddy fights for his life, Leo goes in search of answers, determined to bring the perpetrator to justice.
Bear is Broken is a fun debut legal thriller but it’s also an examination of the relationship between two brothers. As Leo sets off to find his brother’s killer, he also turns inward to figure out the conflicting emotions he’s experiencing through this tragedy.
Leo is refreshingly awkward and novice. While his constant blunders and bad choices may be off-putting to some readers, they are appropriate to a twenty-something, newly credited attorney who thinks he can take on the world, only to have the world prove otherwise.
While the humor tends to fall flat, the plot of the novel is well constructed with a plethora of red herrings and plenty of twists. Leo’s tendency to immediately jump to the wrong conclusions will leave readers wondering who really dunit right up to the end.
Smith also works in a fascinating look at the legal system without burdening the novel with jargon and detail. An impressive debut indeed.
Bear is Broken is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780802120793) from Mysterious Press. An unabridged audio version (ISBN: 9781611749212) is available from Highbridge Audio, narrated by R.C. Bray.