Hague, Steven - 'Justice for All'
This is Steven's first book, and although the author lives in Norwich, interestingly, the book is set in Los Angeles, but despite this, it has a convincing feel to it. The main protagonist is an ex-cop called Zac Hunter. He's only recently been ejected from the Los Angeles Police Department after beating up a suspect, Montero, in a case involving kidnapping, pornography and murder of minors. His justification for doing this was to find the latest victim, a young girl that had only just disappeared and might still be alive. In court though, a young defence lawyer, Rebecca Finch, manages to get Montero off with a not-guilty verdict, and Zac decides to take the law into his own hands and despatch Montero himself. However, when he breaks into Montero's house, he finds he's too late. Montero, together with the prostitute he was in bed with, have already been shot by a professional killer, only a few minutes beforehand.
Zac teams up with an ageing cop called Carson, to find Montero's killer. Carson has linked Montero's murder with three previous murders. In each case, the murderer has left behind his calling card, the Jacks, Queens and Kings of each suit in a pack of playing cards. Carlton says that he wants Zac to take a fresh look at the case. Perhaps he will see something Carson is missing. Meanwhile, we are shown glimpses of the assassin, a Russian, who receives his orders about who to kill next from an unknown boss, as well as the story of Rebecca and her next case: defending a drunk driver from a very wealthy family who hit and killed a young Mexican boy.
Can Zac determine the identity of the serial killer? Who is the 'boss'? Why is Carson letting Zac in on the case, when he is no longer on the force? And why does Rebecca determinedly defend clients who are so obviously guilty?
For a first book, the plot is well written, and the plot twists, though sometimes obvious, are often hidden well. This is a pretty gritty book, with an aggressive feel to it. Zac is a solitary character, solidly bent on finding the killer who took away his chance to settle the score with Montero. His blinkered vision means that he misses some of the more obvious clues as to how he is being manipulated. The book builds up to a tense ending, in which Zac just manages to escape with his life. In the closing words Zac says he thinks he will be more effective if he stays 'freelance'… "Watch out world, here I come". This is a promising book from a new author, and I look forward to Zac's next outing.
Michelle Peckham, England
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