Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mission Hill by Pamela Wechsler

First Sentence: I’m in bed, silently reciting their names.

Prosecution attorney Abby Endicott learns a colleague has been killed execution-style by gangbanger Orlando Jones. Abbie takes on the case, in part as she blames him for the murder of her friend many years ago. If she loses, not only does he walk, but she could lose her license to practice law.

Pamela Wechler’s legal and screenwriting background are apparent from the first paragraph. She certainly knows who to capture the reader’s attention, as well as touching one’s emotions. Yet the explanation makes sense, as do the geographic references.

Our introduction into Abby’s background is handled early and quickly. The relationship between Abby and her lover, Ty, is a nice counterpoint to the case. That it’s not a perfect relationship is a refreshing change.

Wechler’s voice is crisp and real—“The sleek, high-tech building offers one-stop shopping; it houses the homicide unit, the crime lab, the ballistics lab, the identification unit, and the fugitive squad. It’s a kind of like a Neiman Marcus for prosecutors.” For those who know, or even want to visit, Boston, Wechler describes the city very well, good and bad, as well as its politics, and the project known as “The Big Dig.”

There are interesting details about which one wouldn’t normally think—“A hospital emergency is a cheater’s purgatory. Spouses and girlfriends rush to be by their man’s side, only to discover that he has another significant other—or others. There’s nothing that a bed-bound patient can do to prevent the encounters.” The author’s wry humor helps offset the drama nicely—“A dirty mop and bucket are in the corner, next to an overflowing trash barrel. The order of grease is so strong I feel like I need to go to Elizabeth Grady and have my pores extracted. I was hungry when I walked in here. I’d planned to get a burger and a bag of fries for the road. Now I’m seriously considering becoming a vegetarian.” However, fewer product placements wouldn’t have gone amiss.

There is a very good escalation in the seriousness of the plot, but it also goes a bit over the top. For being a legal mystery, there could have been time spent in the courtroom.

“Mission Hill” does have some weaknesses, but it’s a very credible first effort. It will be interesting to see how the series progresses.

MISSION HILL (Legal Thriller-Abby Endicott-Boston-Cont) - Good
Wechsler, Pamela – 1st in series
Minotaur Books – Mar 2017

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