Hubert Crouch | Cried For No One
Crouch puts his years as a litigator to good use in his third legal thriller featuring Fort Worth, Tex., attorney Jace Forman (after 2015’s The Word). Jace is approached by Cal Connors, a prominent colleague who specializes in going after Big Pharma, about representing him in a defamation suit. The magazine Texas Matters has published a cover story accusing Connors of paying off an expert witness to file false reports about a medication’s side effects. After passing on the opportunity, Jace ends up on the other side, defending the reporter, Leah Rosen, against Connors’s claims. Meanwhile, Leah’s piece has prompted a federal investigation into her target by an ambitious federal prosecutor, and both Connors and his colleague and daughter, Christine, don’t balk at considering murder to protect their interests. Crouch extends the suspense outside the courtroom with the acquittal of a creep, Michael Randazzo, who once abducted and tormented Leah and is now working on an elaborate revenge. Fast pacing and believable characters will make this a treat for fans of Steve Martini. (BookLife)
The discovery of a dead girl’s body on a desecrated church altar in Texas leads to the collision of an unctuous hypocritical senator, a mercenary powerhouse shyster, and a determined young reporter in this meandering mystery that provides ample thrills, but only facile characterization. In his debut novel, Crouch, himself a veteran attorney, pits dedicated young lawyer Jace Forman and paralegal Darrin McKenzie against wealthy, well-connected Cal Connors in the investigation of 21-year-old Alexis Stone’s death and disinterment. If Crouch’s depiction of Connors is brutally one-dimensional, he at least keeps the story spinning with subplots, such as those involving Stone’s involvement with married Sen. Talmadge Worthman, the clash between Connors’s daughter Christine and reporter Leah Rosen, and the mysterious relationship between cemetery official Wallace Arnold and embalmer Lonnie Masterson. The characters fill their roles zestfully, but the book lacks depth below its fast-moving surface. Rosen’s discovery of an explosive secret and the presence of Forman’s alienated son Matt in Stone’s apartment before her death provide ample last-minute drama, but the shocking conclusion obscures the legitimate questions about the legal system and judicial powers that Crouch raises. Readers interested in courtroom drama and fast-moving thrillers will find much to like here, but those in search of well-wrought characterization will likely be frustrated.