by Andrea Renee Cox
Note: I normally don't post negative reviews on my blog, because I would rather share with you about books I enjoyed and think you might also like. However, when I signed up to review this one, I agreed to post my review on my blog, whether or not I enjoyed it. Please consider this review my personal thoughts and concerns about this book. Feel free to read the book and decide for yourself.
When I saw the endorsement on the front cover of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. How could I not when it’s touted to “rival a John Grisham novel”?
I wish I had a bunch of positive things to say about this book, but I cannot pretend I enjoyed it. This is an extremely difficult review to write, because I dislike being negative about any author’s hard work. I know how many hours and emotions and commitment go into writing a novel, and I appreciate the passion and effort and time that go into every book I read, even those that weren’t a good fit for my reading taste.
Warning: There are plot spoilers ahead.
Not two chapters in, I was disappointed by the predictability of this story. That trend continued throughout, only truly surprising me twice in over 300 pages. The plot, which had great potential, seemed simplistic with not much suspense or action driving it.
The inconsistencies in three of the four POV characters made them difficult to root for. I wasn’t sure if Kate was a rookie lawyer or seasoned. She seemed to have earned a respectable and accomplished reputation, yet she was so naïve, unpracticed, and emotional that it seemed like this was her first case. She also claimed to have depression, but there were no signs in her thoughts or actions to prove it. Ethan claimed to be leveraging his friendship with Kate to win the case, but he waffled on remaining her friend or using her throughout the entire book. Landon claimed to be most concerned about Kate’s safety, but he was quick to relent on his normal security protocols when she asked him to. That behavior made me question whether or not he was actually an Army Ranger in his past. Those guys have to be decisive and in control, but the Landon I got to know throughout the story was weak and confused and not able to stand up to his client to do what was in her best interest where her safety was concerned.
Nicole was the strongest of the four POV characters, and I don’t have much complaint about her, except that she was barely given any page time for how strong a character she was. Were she the lead, I would have enjoyed this story much better, because she was a gal I could get behind and cheer for. She had strength and a great moral code, yet still had doubts about her abilities that she fought to overcome. Nicole was my favorite part of this book and the only completely positive aspect of it for me.
Since this book has been compared to John Grisham’s, his were what I weighed it against. This story fell flat for me, after having read over a dozen of Grisham’s. Deadly Proof was predictable and had major inconsistencies. About half of the book was repeated information. For example, Landon had a conversation about security with Cooper, then in the very next scene, Landon conveyed the same information (nearly word for word) to Kate. This type of thing happened over and over again. Another thing that really bothered me was how slow the legal side of the story was. Eighty percent was focused on the discovery phase and the junk documents that were handed over. There were inconsistencies on who the client was. Most of the time, it was a class-action suit. On several occasions, though, Kate suddenly began talking about how her client was a single woman rather than the earlier stated masses. I understand they were beginning the bellwether trials with only one case in order to see if they could further pursue a class-action suit, but even after that was decided, Kate talked about her clients being both the entire group affected by the medication and the widow whose case was up first. Shouldn’t she know which client or clients she was fighting for?
Why didn’t Kate ever include any of the other lawyers on the committee for which she wanted to be named lead counselor? I didn’t understand why this committee was even necessary if Kate never intended to be a team player. That made her seem hypocritical, by the way, considering she demanded all her associates to be team players when she, in fact, was not one herself. What happened to the trial? There never was one. I still don’t understand that, after having finished the book. Also, why was the bad guy willing to kill in the early chapters, then chose to use petty harassment throughout the rest of the book? It seemed like two different MOs to me, which made it appear like there were two different “enforcers,” which I knew from the beginning was incorrect due to the predictability I already mentioned. It turned out to merely be another inconsistency.
Due to all of the above, plus more, this book was hard for me to invest my emotions or time into. When compared to a Grisham novel, this book was significantly less complex and the characters drastically less developed. The overall presentation was belittling to the reader. An example is that several times supposedly intelligent characters asked really dumb questions simply to allow the lead to explain legal terms that anyone who had been on a jury, read a Grisham novel, or seen an episode of Law and Order would already know. Other times, legal terminology was used ad nauseam, which only served to make me feel talked down to rather than invited into the story. Why should I, the reader, be held at arm’s length or even looked down upon simply because I haven’t gone to law school? I’ve read enough legal thrillers and seen enough courtroom dramas to know what litigation, discovery, and bellwether trials are.
Even the faith thread was weak to me. It seemed to only be drawn upon when characters were desperate, yet the characters were then able to solve their own problems without relying on God. I really struggled to understand how the faith was intertwined with the core of who the characters were or the problems they faced.
As you can imagine, this book was a complete miss for me. I won’t be continuing the series, and I’m not eager to attempt another Dylan book. I think I’ll reread a few of my favorites of John Grisham’s instead.
That being said, I am more disappointed than anything about this book. It had an interesting back cover copy, an intriguing cover, and great endorsements. I was really looking forward to it and was hopeful about finding a new favorite legal suspense writer to follow. I’m always on the lookout for good quality books in that genre, because it is one I’ve enjoyed and been fascinated with since I was about twelve years old. That’s why I wanted to give this one a try. I had no idea that I would come away from it feeling like I’d wasted my time. I guess I’m back on the hunt for more quality legal thrillers.
About Deadly Proof: