In The Ophelia Cut, John Lescroart gives us another exciting, suspenseful mystery. In this one, Dismas Hardy returns again to the courtroom. This time, he’s a defense attorney embroiled in the case of his life. This case will impact his family, his friends, his practice, and his own life. This time in court, Hardy has to defend one of his best friends, who also happens to be his brother-in-law, Moses McGuire.
The evidence against McGuire is strong. His daughter, Brittany, had been roughed up by Rick Jessup. After McGuire sees the injuries Jessup caused his daughter, he goes to Jessup’s office, causes a scene, and punches Jessup. Brittany tells Jessup she will not see him again, but Jessup, assistant to an important city councilman, won’t give up so easily. Shortly afterward, Brittany agrees to meet Jessup after he says he will press charges against her father if she doesn’t. The next thing she knows, she wakes up in his bed, and she has been raped. The next day, Jessup is found dead in his living room. The victim of a brutal attack, he has died from blunt-force trauma.
The questions asked in Lescroart’s book lead the reader to answers that aren’t black and white; there are moral complexities that the reader is faced with, and you will likely wonder what you would do if you found yourself in the same situation as many of the characters. And speaking of the characters, Lescroart once again performs his magic of bringing us characters that are very real; we get to know them as people who could be someone we know, or us, and they are facing very real struggles. The beginning of the book may seem a bit bogged down in setting up the main characters, but it soon becomes obvious why their backgrounds need to be laid out for the reader.
The trial is the highlight of the book, but to say it is just a legal murder mystery does not come close to describing it. Along with the murder mystery, we have a former hit-man who is now a Federally protected witness in a big case back East, and we gradually learn the facts regarding a homicide involving all of the major protagonists. A homicide they want to keep buried. As an attorney and career prosecutor, I appreciated and enjoyed the fact that Lescroart so accurately described the procedures of a California criminal trial. Lescroart also magnificently wove many stories and characters into what turns out to be not only a great, suspenseful murder mystery, but also a book that presents the reader with interesting, complex moral issues.
Thought-provoking and thrilling, The Ophelia Cut is sure to rank among Lescroart’s top works. I highly recommend it.
– Reviewed by Karen Mitchell
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Publication Date: May 7, 2013
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