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After a couple of years of silence, Dallas lawyer Scott Fenney suddenly receives a phone call from his ex-wife: "Scott, it's Rebecca. I need you" is what he hears when he picks up the phone. Rebecca has been accused of murdering her boyfriend, pro-golfer Trey Rawlins - the man she left Scott for - and is begging Scott to defend her and prove her innocence.
Despite still trying to come to terms with her leaving him suddenly for another man and thus abandoning both himself and their daughter, Scott agrees to represent Rebecca in court. As he prepares to defend his ex-wife, Scott is forced to question everything he believes to get to the truth and save the life of the ex-wife he still loves.
'Accused' is a legal thriller by author Mark Gimenez who has written four other legal thrillers and is described as 'the next Grisham' by The Times.
Reading the blurb on the cover made this book sound an interesting read and along with the 'next Grisham' tag there was further praise such as 'one of the best legal thrillers since Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent' and 'gripping read with unexpected twists' included on the cover. A page-turning thriller with a few twists is right up my street and so I was looking forward to reading this, particularly as I had neither heard of nor read, any of this author's work prior to buying this book.
The story begins with Rebecca waking up to find she is soaked in her boyfriend's blood as he lies dead next to her with a knife stuck in his chest at their home in Galveston.
Meanwhile 300 miles away, Scott Fenney is starting an early morning run. As he runs past the mansion he used to call home, he again reminds himself it has been two years since that life became his past. Scott had it all, a flourishing partnership at a law firm, flash car, house, beautiful wife of eleven years and a young daughter.
Now two years on, Scott has no wife and is a poor lawyer. All his material possessions are gone, as he is no longer a partner in the law firm (the reasons for which are explained) and whilst it is not something Scott regrets and he is still a lawyer, he would however, like to be able to give his daughters more than he does.
I say daughters because not only is Scott a father to 11 year old daughter Barbara (Boo) but he also adopted Pajamae after he defended her mother against a murder charge and won, only to see her die of an overdose two months later, leaving Pajamae with nobody.
Scott has struggled however, to come to terms with his wife sudden departure, leaving him and their daughter behind to be with another man. Boo has come to terms with her mother leaving and not being in her life anymore, but Scott has found it more difficult to move one, even though his daughters have decided he should be finding another woman.
So when Rebecca rings asking Scott for help, he agrees. The reason being he thinks he owes her as she didn't take their daughter with her when she left, which he sees as an act of kindness, which right away I felt cynical about as I read this.
Scott rents a beach house in Galveston for a month and takes his legal team, his daughters and their cook/cleaner with them and I instantly became irritated by this because it was as if the author had forgot that lawyer A. Scott Fenney was in fact meant to be broke!
Other things which annoyed me whilst reading the book were Scott's daughter Boo constantly referring to her father as 'A. Scott' all the time whenever she spoke to him or referred to him and also the character of Rebecca Fenney, but of course you are not meant to like her as after all, what mother could just abandon her daughter like that and have no more contact? Rebecca Fenney comes across as self-centred and materialistic but ultimately terrified of going to prison. She states she is innocent and Scott believes her from the off, but proving her innocence is going to be far more difficult, as her prints are all over the murder weapon in such a way that it shows the knife was held in a stabbing position.
It was easy to dislike Rebecca, not just for what she did, but also for the way she is. Whilst she builds some bridges with her daughter, she also thinks she can just resume her old relationship with her ex-husband and this is something Scott struggles with as he tries not to succumb to her charms all over again. The weaker side to his character is shown and I found I was willing him to tell her where to go, as I liked his character and wanted him to wake up and smell the coffee where Rebecca was concerned.
Everyone else bar Scott is not enamoured by Rebecca and although Scott believes her innocence, his colleagues who are also close friends, are not as quick to believe.
I really didn't think I was going to enjoy this book after the first few pages, but there is something about the writing style which held my interest and I found that I was actually enjoying reading the book despite my doubts. The characterisation is really good and there are some good supporting characters here such as those of Nick the sports agent and Shelby, the ambitious female judge.
The story didn't become bogged down with any legal jargon, indeed everything was kept simple and explained well enough so the reader isn't left puzzled at all. I also enjoyed the history of Galveston, which again was kept simple and interesting (although I kept thinking of the Glen Campbell song each time it was mentioned!)
There were some twists, one of which was particularly interesting and although some parts of the story were a little predictable there were parts that weren't and so it remained an interesting read throughout. Of course there was an undercurrent running alongside the case in regards to Scott and Rebecca where you are always wondering will they, or won't they get back together and I was willing the outcome of this to be the latter.
Gimenez describes well how Scott is forced to doubt his ex-wife at times and as more and more background to her life and that of her golfer boyfriends' is exposed, Scott wonders if he ever really knew her at all, but she is quick to try and reassure him and profess her innocence at every turn.
As the reader I found I was kept guessing in regards to her innocence, which is something I enjoy, although at no point did I ever feel sorry for her I have to say and think this was because there was nothing to actually like about her character.
There were a couple of surprises at the end and overall I enjoyed this book, although it still seemed unrealisitic that a broke lawyer could afford what he did in regards to taking on the case and also the fact his daughter referred to him as A.Scott all the time without it irritating him!
At 562 pages this thriller is slightly longer than average, but at no point did it become tedious and so credit must be given to the author for a well-written and interesting thriller which held my interest throughout.
Accused - Mark Gimenez
I am an avid reader and am particularly fond of crime novels. As such I am, unsurprisingly, a big follower of John Grisham having read all his novels over the years. Therefore I was surprised that until recently the works of Mark Gimenez had totally passed me by given that he is acclaimed by The Times as 'The next Grisham'. Having now read 'Accused' I would have to give credit to this as the subject matter of which they both write is similar but more so because they both hold that amazing ability to write in such a captivating manner as to keep you hooked and wanting more- I guarantee that you will not want to put this book down, I literally whipped through it in two days.
I have recently discovered that Gimenez is infact the author of 4 other books and that the characters in 'Accused' first featured in another of Gimenez's books and therefore this book could be categorized as a sequel as it follows their lives a few years on. However I would like to assure any potential readers that not having read the previous book in no way affected my enjoyment of this book as Gimenez provides a thorough insight to the characters and to the history which has led them to this point.
Two years ago Scott Fenney was a highly successful, highly paid partner at a prestigous law firm. He had the money, the house, the car, the exclusive club membership, the glamorous wife and the gorgeous daughter. However a crisis of conscience sees Scott switch sides in a high profile case in which he successfully proves a drug-addicted, black, prostitute innocent of the murder of a US Senators son and in a twist of irony his greatest victory leads to his greatest loss as his wife leaves him for the golf pro and he is forced out of his $million job. Two years on and Scott has set up his own law firm with two of his closest friends focused on fighting for the poor, and he is now a single father to two 11 years old girls (having adopted the daughter of the prostitute who died shortly after winning her case.) He is desperately trying to get his life back on track when he is offered not only a partnership back at his old job but also the opportunity to embark on a new career as a federal judge. However Scott barely gets time to consider either option when a phone call from the blue ensures his life is put on hold - his ex-wife has been arrested for the murder of the man she left him for and she wants him to defend her.
A (misplaced?) sense of loyalty sees Scott Fenney put his house up as collateral and use his last few dollars to do everything within his power to prove his ex-wife innocent and to ensure his daughter does not only know a mother behind bars. This book follows Scott Fenney, his family and colleagues as they uncover the many hidden secrets in their battle to find the truth, whilst also forcing him to make important decisions which will affect the future of all his family.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was hooked almost immediately. It is written in the third person and gives a really thorough insight to the main character, exploring his thoughts and feelings throughout so that you really develop a connection with him and all that he is going through. The story is very well constructed with various twists and turns developing through the course of the book right to the end, some predictable but some completely unseen.
This book has an RRP of £6.99 but I picked my copy up recently in £land so if my review has not been enough to convince you to go out and get a copy hopefully the price tag will! Meanwhile I will be on the lookout for other books by this author, so watch this space!!!
I found Mark Gimenez books a while ago when I read his The Colour of Law, it had some references to one of my all time favourite books To Kill A Mockingbird. I have since read several of his books and in my ever increasing reading pile was his latest paperback Accused.
I was pleasantly surprised to see he had gone back to the original characters of his first novel The Colour of Law, the one that started it all for me.
A.Scott Fenney is still a practising lawyer in Texas, now for his own small law firm, he looks after his 2 daughters Boo and his newly adopted . He receives a distressing call from his ex wife Rebecca, who left him in the previous novel for a professional golfer - Trey Rawlins, but she is now accused of murdering him and is being held in a police cell in Galveston. Rebecca is now begging Scott to defend her, something he can't say no to as he doesn't want their daughter Boo growing up with her mother in jail and he still has feelings for her. If found guilty Rebecca would be sentenced to life imprisonment. Scott moves his family and associates to Galveston to try and prove Rebecca's innonence and find some flaws in the prosecution's case and some new suspects.
There are plenty of twists and turns in this book and it is fast paced, while it was 576 pages in the paperback version I raced through the book, it is a real page turner and it was also great to welcome back familiar characters.
Although not strictly necessary it is adviable to have read The Colour of Law first to completely understand the references and characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it maybe didn't quite hit the dizzying heights of the Colour of Law but was an excellent read that kept me guessing right to the end. I enjoyed seeing how the characters had developed and would love to see more books about them.
Gimenez is often compared to John Grisham but I think he stands by himself as the author of excellent legal thrillers. Keep up the good work. You can purchase it on Amazon for £2.99 the rrp is £6.99.