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Fatal Flaw    by William Lashner order for
Fatal Flaw
by William Lashner
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Fatal Flaw is a real page-turner. I stayed up very late last night - had to read to the end. Lawyer Victor Carl gets a late night call from an old friend, Guy Forrest, who is in desperate trouble and needs a friend and a good lawyer. Guy's live-in girlfriend Hailey has been shot to death and he has been charged with her murder.

Victor is certain that, despite his protestations of innocence, Guy killed Hailey. Victor determines to represent his friend but to sabotage Guy's case because he is sure that his friend shot the woman with whom he, Victor, was sleeping - a woman for whom Guy left his wife, children, job and friends. It seems that this should be a man, for whom it is hard to feel sympathy. But there is something so trusting and childlike about him that, with everything against him, the reader's heart sinks. At least this reader's did.

Now that the story is set, it takes off running. It's a convoluted plot but, nevertheless, easy to follow. And the more I got into it, the more I wanted to know. Hailey's life is explored in depth, as is Guy's and Victor's. Backstories abound, providing history and a sense of reality to the characters involved. The more that the past is unraveled, the more the present is understandable. Lashner weaves backgrounds for his characters that could be the basis for stand alone books of their own. Just as the reader feels that Guy doesn't stand a chance within the legal system, another tiny piece of the plot pops up to renew hope.

I enjoyed the author's knowledge of Philadelphia and its suburbs. I grew up on the Main Line (the other side of the tracks) and my father-in-law many years ago was a Detective Sergeant there. So I felt at home with Lashner's settings. Fatal Flaw is a satisfyingly long book. It's easy to become immersed in its plot and hard to put down - a wonderful read from a first page that finds Guy sitting naked on the front stoop of a house in the middle of the night, a gun at his side, to the unexpected turn of events at the end. Read. Enjoy. And recommend to your friends.

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