Reasonable Doubt

Reasonable Doubt - Carsen Taite Sarah Flores is an FBI behavioral analyst who specializes in serial killers. Tired of the hunt and wanting to settle down to domesticity, she transfers to a much less demanding desk job investigating paper crimes. An unexpected social call results in a meeting with a captivating woman, ex-lawyer turned furniture maker Ellery Durant, who just might be what she needs to jumpstart her social life. The attraction is mutual but then Ellery gets caught up in accusations of aiding terrorist financing. And it's just Sarah's luck that she is the nearest FBI agent on the ground who can get near Ellery--so near she may not be able to keep her hands off.

Despite what the title of the book or the author's profession may suggest, 'Reasonable Doubt' is not a courtroom drama but more of a cross between a police procedural and a legal drama with some thriller elements, and of course, a good dose of romance.

Because of the nature of Ellery's alleged crime, the investigation is centered mostly on chasing paper trails (or computer files). Certainly not the most exciting case load, but I never really felt bored, mainly because a good portion of this is devoted to the internal conflicts our leading ladies have to wrestle with in the course of the investigation. Should they or shouldn't they? Should Sarah recuse herself because of conflict of interest? Should she be trying to clear Ellery or should she just walk away because she may actually pin Ellery to the crime? On Ellery's part, can she trust Sarah or will she betray her just like the rest? Throw into that confusing mix Ellery's father and ex-law partner, who seem to have secret agendas of their own, and you have a deliciously complicated mystery to chew into.

The thing that I noticed with Ms. Taite's writing is that it is very grounded and sensible. She doesn't try for the most dramatic or histrionic but rather the most logical. For example, in the first major event, a more theatrical author would have put the leads right in the thick of the action to generate more drama. But she chose a different, more realistic situation to place our leads in. Her storyline is so well plotted, it's difficult to poke holes through. Her background in law also means that her writing doesn't just feel authentic but actually exhibits a depth of understanding of the nuances and frustrations of the legal system that other authors can only dream of.

What all of that means is this book is a meticulously-plotted, well-written, sophisticated read, punctuated with enough highlights to not be completely boring yet not over-the-top exciting as to be unrealistic. For the most part. The climactic furor at the end feels quite a bit like a concession to us genre readers--a quintessential Hollywood slam-bang finale--rather than the logical conclusion to a tight legal drama. BUT, I loved it. It gives our ladies the chance to play badass and foil a horrific terror attempt, never mind that the timing and the whole setup was so implausible as to be out of character with everything that came before it :)

4.4 stars

P.S. One of the biggest mysteries in the book was why Ellery traded law books for old furniture. I wonder if this is autobiographical? ;) And, I don't know if the author has plans to continue this book or not, but it (Ellery's reason for quitting) seems a really good premise for a sequel. :)

ARC received from Netgalley