Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Betrayed" by Robert K. Tanenbaum (4 stars)

I've been reading this series since the beginning and had not enjoyed the more recent entries as much because they had stopped being true legal thrillers and were more like terrorist thrillers starring the Karp family. This novel is a throwback to the classic early Butch Karp novels where the criminal case is the star of the book.

This book is the culimination to a series within the series with some related bad guys over the last several books. To follow the players, you should at least have read Capture (Butch Karp Thrillers) and probably should read Escape, Malice and Absolute Rage. These books all have the Karp family and friends involved in foiling terrorist plots against New York.

I think the series was at its best in the first 15 novels where Michael Gruber was involved in the writing and the stories were more courtroom oriented. In the last 5-6 books, the focus came away from the courtroom and weren't as interesting to me.

For that reason, I enjoyed this book much more than the previous several. If you loved all the terrorist plots and shootouts and Lucy in danger and are bored with the courtroom drama, you may be disappointed in this book. This book follows directly after "Capture" with the prosecution of Imam Sharif Jabbar for the murder of a young woman that occurred in the previous book. The characters don't face a new terrorist threat, although Nadya Molovo is still on the loose and is a threat to Karp's witnesses and family. Nearly all the action involving Karp takes place while preparing for and conducting the criminal trial of Jabbar. Marlene has her own legal work as Dirty Warren is charged with murder.

Because this book is centered on the criminal trial, many of the characters readers have grown to love from the series are not involved. Lucy, the twins, and Tran are just briefly mentioned. Jojola is a witness in the trial. Guma, Newberry and Espey Jaxon make brief appearances. That's one of the sad parts of the book being centered on the trial -- there's no reason for most of the characters to be involved in the story.

I enjoyed this book much more than the several books coming before it. It was almost a return to the kind of stories from the early part of the series. But I enjoy courtroom drama. If you enjoyed the thrills of the terrorist plots of the recent books and don't care for courtroom drama, you may not like this book as much. There are many good writers of terrorist thrillers. I enjoy when a lawyer tells a good courtroom drama so I thank the author for this throwback to the good old days of the Butch Karp series.

I got this book from the library.  Support your local library!

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