Tag Archives: A Case of Redemption

The Quest

The Sirena Quest (nook book)

The Sirena Quest: A Mystery by Michael A. Kahn (Poisoned Pen Press, $14.95, 298 pages)

What is the likelihood of two widowed lawyers featured in a mystery – one a January 2015 release from Poisoned Pen Press and the other a December 2013 release from author Adam Mizner, A Case of Redemption? It’s probably not unheard of, but this reviewer read them both within a few weeks of each other purely by accident. That’s where the similarity ends.

Author Kahn provides a slow start to his latest book, a stand-alone. By the way, Sirena is a 300 pound bronze statue that has been the subject of many pranks since it was donated to an eastern college. Ultimately, it disappears. The main characters are four fellows, freshman roommates at the college in 1970. Sirena is still a legend many years after the abduction when they begin college life.

Fast forward to 1994 when a wealthy alumnus offers up a huge reward for the return of the statue, $25 million. The bulk of the reward is an endowment to the college; however two million is a reward for the finder(s). The four roommates decide to take the challenge. The pace picks up as clues are deciphered. The fellows only have a limited time before the deadline and they are hot on the trail.

Kahn shifts among the main characters giving the reader glimpses of the men 24 years ago during their freshman year at “Barrett College.” Barrett is a stand-in for Kahn’s alma mater, Amherst. The true value of this tale is the touching way the author portrays his characters. Their lives, like most of the rest of us, have their highs and lows. As the story concludes, the reader can feel emotions seep from the page into the real world.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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Caveat Emptor

A Case of Redemption: A Novel by Adam Mitzner (Gallery Books, $26.00, 322 pages)

A Case of Redemption (nook book)

I generally have a problem with novels that deal with the law and the criminal justice system. That’s because they never feel quite “real” enough — meaning I can’t suspend my disbelief. This is a problem that was present in reading A Case of Redemption. I never felt like I had fallen into a fictional story; instead, my mind kept telling me, “You’re reading a legal novel written by someone following a plot outline.”

A primary issue with the story is that it sounds a great deal like the Paul Newman film, The Verdict. A lawyer faces tragedy and alcoholism and tries to re-start his life by taking on a big case. Here, it’s a criminal case rather than a civil one but as one of my relatives used to say, “Same difference.” Dan Sorenson was “a high powered New York City defense attorney…” until his wife and young daughter were killed by a drunk driver. Then the 43-year-old wreck of a man quits his practice and falls off of the planet into the bottle.

Ah, but soon he’s contacted by a young female lawyer, Nina Harrington — pretty much fresh out of law school — who convinces him to defend a rapper accused of a murder he insists he didn’t commit (but which he seems to have very accurately described in one of his compositions). What are the odds that Dan and Nina are going to get it on between the sheets? Oh, you see that coming, too?

Yes, much of what happens in this legal novel is predictable. Once you’re halfway through it, you may well be able to figure out who the bad guy is (no spoiler alert needed here). Unfortunately, it all concludes with an overly tricky ending that’s implausible. The conclusion reveals that the entire tale was a big red herring and you are likely to feel embarrassed about having spent so much time getting through it.

Since Mitzner is a practicing lawyer, there are a few realistic courtroom scenes, but they are highly structured. One never gets the “You never know what will happen next…” feeling that pervades true life courtrooms. So one’s time would be better spent reading a Scott Turow novel. Turow’s endings are tricky, but plausible.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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