Love, jury tampering, and harried investigations intertwine in Fixer, an intriguing legal thriller.
In Roderick C. Lankler’s thriller Fixer, an idealistic attorney contends with rigged juries.
In Manhattan, a woman is raped and murdered. There’s clear evidence that a known mafioso is responsible. Ian, the assistant district attorney, is assigned to the case. He trusts that his cut-and-dried presentation of the facts will convince the jury to hand down an indictment. However, the jury is deadlocked by a single juror, and an investigation reveals that the juror was paid off for this reason. With the help of a retired judge and a homicide unit, Ian works toward a fair retrial.
At the same time, Ian tackles a cold case after a confession of guilt comes from within a psychiatric hospital. He works to determine whether the inmate can be trusted and whether there’s a killer walking free. Ian also connects with Adele, the sister of the murdered woman, and begins a passionate, secretive affair with her. Their relationship could cast a negative light on the trial and retrial, but Ian refuses to give up on what might be real love.
Though the murder trial and the jury tampering are at the novel’s ostensible core, both are back-burnered for much of the book. This occurs despite the fact that Ian and his allies have evidence that a former attorney has begun fixing juries for the right price. Still, the cold case and Ian’s new relationship are given narrative priority, and what was once a legal thriller comes to seem more like a story of forbidden passion. And in an effort to resolve the separate story lines, the book’s conclusion is rushed through, while a climactic moment of the murder trial is condensed to a few unsatisfying paragraphs.
Elsewhere, the prose is detail-heavy, often to its detriment. People are introduced in terms of their appearances, down to their accessories; the effect is distracting and often redundant. Further, the expansive cast, intersecting story lines, and long, untagged conversations lead to a blurred tale, as do switches between how characters are referenced (both by their first and last names). Despite these general characterization issues, Ian himself is rendered an affable and outgoing hero; he’s talented at his job, and he struggles with the moral implications of his new relationship.
Love, jury tampering, and harried investigations intertwine for an assistant district attorney in Fixer, an intriguing legal thriller.
John M. Murray
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