With a post title like “Denial” you might be expecting me to be weighing in on the Canadian election results. Which I will do at some point in the near future, but right now I thought we could all use a distraction.
Joseph Quentin is a famous fixer. If you have a legal problem, he can solve it. Until his wife is charged with murdering her own mother.
Enter crusading lawyer Jilly Truitt, who believes Vera Quentin is innocent when even her husband thinks she did the deed. The evidence is overwhelming, but Vera refuses to accept a plea bargain. Can Jilly get her off?
So sets the stage for Beverley McLachlin’s just published new novel, Denial. It is her second novel featuring Truitt.
If Vera didn’t killer mother, then who did? Was it the grandson, or the son-in-law? Did the maid do it? Someone from a right-to-die group? Or did someone manage to break into the house, kill the woman, and not leave a trace? What does it matter, as long as Truitt can convince the jury that there is reasonable doubt?
Mysteries like this are what I think of as “beach reads” – a well told story with a mostly believable plot, interesting characters and a certain amount of suspense. When I am at the beach in the summertime I can get though one in a day. McLachlin, former Chief Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court, has a winner with this one, even if I didn’t get to read it at the beach.
McLachlin’s background lends an aura of believability to the legal drama, though having been a judge for more than 40 years it has been a long time since she had to argue any case, let alone a murder trial. The background manoeuvring felt authentic.
Even more though, it was the plot that grabbed my attention. With any murder mystery I try and outwit the author. My goal is to get past the misdirection designed to lead me to false conclusions and figure out “whodunit.” My hope is to see if I can do so in the first hundred pages, when the plot is still unfolding. I didn’t manage that this time.
Right up to the end I wasn’t sure who would be found criminally responsible for the murder, and if indeed it would be the right person. It is a sad fact of our legal system that sometimes people are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit – which is one of the reasons I oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty.
It has been a rough year for most of us and we could all use a break, a chance to escape a bit from our own cares and concerns. Denial gave me the opportunity to stretch my crime-solving brain and relax with a good story. I had fun reading it – and I am hoping McLachlin will give us more from Jilly Truitt in the future.
“Review copy provided courtesy of Simon & Shuster Canada.”