Monday, February 03, 2014


The official book of my London trip a couple of years ago was TRIAL JUNKIES by Robert Gregory Browne. When you have a couple of 11 hour flights and you can't sleep on anything that's moving (like a plane) you need something to read... and I'd had this book on my Kindle since it came out.

Now (February 3 2014) the book is on a "Countdown Sale" at Amazon... so you can pick it up cheap if you act fast!

The story is like THE BIG CHILL as a courtroom thriller. A bunch of old college roommates who shared a big old house off campus... but after college they went their separate ways - scattering and not really keeping in touch with each other. Hutch became a TV star, Matt became a newspaper reporter, Jenny became a lawyer, Veronica became a junkie, Andy just stayed Andy, Nadine became a real estate mogul . A decade later, the brutal murder of Jenny - Hutch's college girlfriend - brings the group back to Chicago for her funeral... and all of the old conflicts are brought to the surface. Before they can hash out their BIG CHILL issues... Veronica (Ronny) is arrested for Jenny's murder, further splintering the group.

Some members of the gang are sure that Ronny is guilty... others are sure that she is innocent. Hutch decides to stick around Chicago, staying in his dead parent's house, to watch the trial. He starts out believing that Ronny is guilty - she had all kinds of problems plus a temper - but Hutch discovers that she's a single mom and straightened out her life after having her son Chris.  Plus - why would she kill Jenny? Hutch ends up using his TV star money to pay for her lawyer and bail her out of jail... and due to the media circus at her home, brings Ronny and her son and her mom to live with him in his parent's old house.

Nadine believes that Ronny did it, but Matt and Hutch think she's innocent... and along with "Trial Junkie" Gus (a retired bailiff who watches trials for fun and knows the ins and outs of the law) they start their own investigation of the murder... and find some interesting suspects and also get into big trouble with the police (who have their killer and don't want to admit they may have screwed up) and Jenny's wealthy father who thinks that believing that Ronny is innocent is the same as wanting the killer to go free.

Fast paced, lots of twists, and Rob's signature race-against-time ending (KISS HER GOODBYE features an ending where the hero's daughter is buried alive and he must find her before her oxygen runs out).  Probably could have used another character pass, and the opening is a little confusing because we switch POVs from Hutch to Matt without notice (Stephen King solves this problem with kind of a character slug thing to tell us who's eyes we're seeing this chapter from), but a quick read and a cool idea. There's a KOJAK episode where a "Trial Junkie" who has sat in on so many trials that she knows who is guilty and who is innocent and knows more about the law than all of the lawyers helps Kojak crack a case... and since seeing that I've always thought that was an odd hobby: watching trials. This novel explores that - and gives us a very memorable character in Gus.

Check it out!

- Bill

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