Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Posted by Kurt

My dad gave me this book because it is set in Galveston, Texas, an area that is like a home to me. And the book does have plenty of nice local trivia and charming anecdotes about the history and culture of the island (and Bolivar Peninsula, and Houston). Unfortunately, the writing is so bad that this is the literary equivalent of someone filming porn (or a season of MTV's The Real World) in your hometown. 

I read Gimenez's earlier book, The Color of Law, and while I recognized the lack of quality in its craftsmanship, I did enjoy the way the book treated Dallas as a character. That strength is present in this book as well, as Galveston is such a rich setting, clearly well-loved by the author, but everything else overwhelms the good feelings that I want to have toward the book. Gimenez's story is fairly simple - two years after the events in The Color of Law (if you didn't read that one, don't worry, this book covers Every. Important. Detail. over and over), A. Scott Fenney is a poor lawyer doing principled work and somehow not able to pay for anything (except a few months of beach house rental for his whole family and his whole law office, and plane tickets all over Texas, and basically anything else he needs to advance the plot when Gimenez forgets that the guy is supposed to be poor). His ex-wife wakes up next to her boyfriend, with a knife in his chest, with his blood all over her, in an otherwise empty house (and Gimenez makes me roll my eyes more than once by having his characters insist that this is somehow not probable cause for a murder charge until her prints turn up on the knife handle), and Fenney goes down to defend her, because apparently no other defense attorney is willing to take a high-profile pro bono case for the publicity (I'm being a little sarcastic here). 

You may forget from time to time that Fenney is defending his ex-wife for the murder of the man she left him for, but have no fear, Gimenez is ready every three or four pages to have a new character throw in the exact same line. But you should be thankful, because as bad as that one line is, it's still better than most of what passes for dialogue in this book (I got the distinct impression that Gimenez has never heard someone talking on a phone before, or telling a joke before, or speaking in court before, or reporting a news story before, although he actually does alright with tender parent/child moments).

To his credit, Gimenez does try hard with some things. His DA and defense attorney are both portrayed as honorable people who work very hard and honestly want to do the right thing. Most legal thrillers tend to make one actor a hopeless villain, and Gimenez really reaches toward something noble with Rex and Scott. Also, Gimenez seems to have done his homework on what the pro golf world is like, and there are some curious insights into what golf fans will and won't tolerate. 

For the most part, though, this book is a failure. A well-meaning, richly-set, quick-reading failure, but a failure nonetheless.

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