An Engineered Injustice is the second novel in the Philadelphia Legal series by author William L. Myers.
Let me say at the outset it isn’t quite as good as the first: A Criminal Defense. That is not surprising because I said in an earlier review of A Criminal Defense that it was “a scorcher of a legal thriller.” This didn’t quite get to the same heat levels for me probably because the earlier parts of this second book were more pedestrian than the first novel.
But Mr. Myers is a fine writer and his novels really are worth reading.
The plot revolves around a train crash resulting in many dead and even more seriously injured. The train driver, Eddy, is the cousin of a somewhat inexperienced lawyer, Vaughn Coburn, who nevertheless takes on the case despite huge media attention and the public and media baying for the blood of the engineer (train driver to us in the UK).
Through the telling of the story, we learn of the attorney Coburn’s terrible secret which involves Eddy and this is the reason why he will do anything it takes to exonerate his engineer relative.
The protagonist is the lawyer and his lawyer sidekicks. He is a realistic and likeable fellow if somewhat naïve. The antagonists line up to ensure Eddy, the engineer cousin, is not only blamed for the crash but also incarcerated for criminal manslaughter. Those antagonists include the two top personal injury lawyers in town with their nasty henchmen who will stop at nothing in the dirty tricks department. If that wasn’t bad enough the son of a mobster was killed as a passenger on the train and he is out for bloody revenge.
It is a great mix of characters and the true nature and cause of the train crash is brought out bit by bit in a suspenseful telling of the tale. The real cause is so implausible and that is what the perpetrators counted on. That it was so unbelievable no one in his or her right mind would believe it. Clever stuff and the author carries it off to a tee!
For me, the courtroom scenes are the best (it’s that former lawyer in me). This is where Mr. Myers comes into a territory where he is a master.
Two little niggles: I did find the predominant use of the present tense a little irritating at times. Possibly because I am English and many native English men and women of a generation before mine often slip into a sloppy habit of using the present tense when they should be using the past tense. Maybe an American audience would not pick up on it?
The other minor niggle was towards the end of the book when the author is tidying up the loose ends. He tells us about the demise of one of the antagonists but, for me, he adds some gratuitous piece of medical information which is totally unnecessary. In fact, I think he could have satisfactorily wrapped up the book with some sharp editing omitting certain things, which I do not mention to avoid spoilers, and added nothing to a wonderful book.
Can’t wait for book three!
I received a Kindle version of this book through Netgalley. I was under no compunction to review it. I thank Netgalley, the author and the publisher for the opportunity of reading this book.
It is to be released on January 23, 2018.
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