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Damage    by John Lescroart order for
by John Lescroart
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

John Lescroart is well known for his excellent legal thrillers (set mainly in San Francisco), in particular those starring former police officer/defense lawyer Dismas Hardy (who has a walk-on role in this new novel, Damage.

The Curtlees have long been the most powerful family in San Francisco, and Cliff and Theresa (who own the city's number-two newspaper) regularly exploit their wealth and influence to get their way. Unable to prevent the conviction of their son Roland for the rape and murder of one of the pretty housekeepers they bring in from Guatemala on work visas, they have exacted retribution on all involved. In particular they did serious damage to the careers of both prosecutor Amanda Jenkins and homicide detective Abe Glitsky.

Almost a decade later, Ro Curtlee's conviction has been reversed after an appeal exploited a wacky technicality. New district attorney Wes Farrell (whose administrative assistant is Abe Glitsky's wife Treya) makes what many (including his girlfriend Sam) see as a serious error in judgment when he chooses not to personally argue against bail before the retrial. Soon after Ro's release from prison, people associated with his trial and conviction start to die horribly.

Amanda Jenkins and Abe Glitsky badly want Ro back in jail, especially after he shows up at Abe's home and terrifies Treya, but there's little evidence, arson having erased all traces. When they arrest Ro anyway, the Curtlees unleash rabid reporter Sheila Marrenas, whose articles take quite a few liberties with the truth. Unhappy that Treya fled the city with their small children, Abe desperately seeks a key missing witness as the violence escalates.

As always, Lescroart writes a thoughtful legal thriller. Though I found all three Curtlees rather stereotypical, there were plenty of surprises along the way for both Abe and readers. Wes settles into his new job and takes a stand, speaking 'like a true DA at last', while the bad guys get a fitting punishment for their many crimes. If you enjoy legal thrillers, start the new year off with a bang with John Lescroart's Damage.

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