Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Robin James has an excellent grasp on how to fuse together the worlds of thriller novels and the law, and the acclaim received by his Mara Brent Legal Thriller Series can only testify to as much. In the second book of the series, Price of Justice, Mara Brent is faced with an unusual scenario: violent convicts are suddenly going free in her small town and quaint town. More specifically, two vicious lunatics are suddenly released on bail, and Mara must race against the clock to stop their seemingly inevitably killing spree.
Table of contents
Robin James Sets the Killers Free
Criminals of all sorts do walk and live among us in free society, but for the most part, our model of segregating miscreants from law-abiding citizens seems to work fairly well. As a matter of fact, few wonder what would happen should this system crumble and the few madly violent allowed to live among us… the precise scenario faced by Mara Brent in Price of Justice by Robin James.
The second book in the Mara Brent Legal Thriller Series, it very much works as a standalone novel, and even if there are allusions to the various events of the previous instalment, you’ll never exactly feel like you’re missing out on any crucial piece of information. I do recommend you have a look at the first chapter if you enjoy legal thrillers, but if you want to skip it and dive right into this one, feel free to do so.
The story begins with Mara Brent trying to sort out to the mess left by her corrupt ex-boss, tirelessly setting things right wherever she can. While the scandal is slowly dying out around her, her career is still in a relatively precarious position, and the last thing she wants is losing her beloved position as a small-town prosecutor.
However, the past rears its ugly head in the form of unearthed gross negligence, threatening to undo the conviction of two brothers, a matching pair of brutal killers with no concept of pity nor remorse. Mara prepares for the long and arduous fight to keep the two men behind bars, intent on preventing the killing spree they have doubtlessly planned.
However, inexplicably enough, the duo is suddenly released on bail, and so the clock begins ticking down for Mara. Every second counts, and if she fails to work quickly and accurately, she runs the risk of staining her hands with innocent blood for the rest of her life. The race is on, and the sharpest mind will emerge victorious.
The Exciting Courtroom in Price of Justice
Legal thrillers come in all shapes, sizes and extremes, with countless authors searching for the perfect balance between law and thrill, between realism and entertainment. As a result, it’s a fairly capricious genre, one which makes it easy for authors to sway too much in any one direction; most legal thrillers are either unbelievable, or a slog to get through.
In my opinion, Robin James has found the happy medium in the Mara Brent Legal Thriller Series, and just like the first time around, it’s quite apparent in Price of Justice. From start to finish he hits the perfect stride which, in my layman’s opinion, will please all but those who are looking for the kind of realism only achievable in works of nonfiction.
Whether we’re exploring Mara Brent’s personal life, her preparation for the trial, or her battle in the courtroom, we never get hung up on any specific topic for too long, one of the techniques Robin James uses to keeps the narration fresh and exciting. Naturally, as the novel progresses the courtroom drama does swell and take up more space in the story, and I must say I’ve seen few authors capable of delivering it in such an exciting fashion.
While we do indeed get treated to some legalese and real-world facts, Robin James knows exactly where to stop so as not to overwhelm his readers who, let’s face it, are largely here for the story and its progression, rather than learning about courtroom procedures. He uses legal facts as launching pads for riveting twists and turns, which he seemingly has in never-ending supply for us.
One element of the story I truly enjoyed was the way in which Robin James showed justice taking its course. He naturally has a great understanding of the subject, and the various details about the methodical way it works made me realize just how impressive of an achievement the concept of the criminal code was, even if it has been misused and abused over the ages.
Mara Brent Stewing in Chaos
While some series only use the main character as a vehicle to drive through all the plots the author is capable of inventing, Robin James has actually made Mara Brent into a lot more than that in Price of Justice, a course I’m certain he’ll follow in future novels as well. Slowly but surely, she has developed her into a realistic human being with various aspects many of us, I’m sure, can relate to.
We do get to learn a fair bit about her personal life, namely her struggle with her husband cheating on her, but thankfully the author, once again, knows exactly where to stop to prevent his book from devolving into some sort of drama. He pays just enough attention to the protagonist’s personal life to give her all the colour he wants her to have.
As a result, it quickly becomes clear Mara is a multi-layered character with plenty of complexities of her own, and what’s more, her actions always feel like they’re in line with her justified world views. Ultimately, this makes her feel like a very real person, one we can feel true concern for when she begins to thrash around in the chaos which, by all means, should now feel somewhat familiar to her.
It’s a thrill in and of itself to watch her furiously work and passionately fight for what she believes in, for the brand of justice she has dedicated her entire life to. Even though we do know our heroes tend to triumph in the end, it’s difficult not to be concerned for her and the people she is trying to save from the murderous brothers.
Speaking of which, they’re the last piece which made this puzzle so enthralling. We don’t get to know too much about them, and while we know they are human, they still take on some otherworldly quality by virtue of their diabolical natures and utterly twisted ambitions. They are the perfect villains for Mar to vanquish, and they make it difficult not to root for her success.
|328||Robin James Books||Aug. 24 2020||978-1951327101|
The Final Verdict
Price of Justice by Robin James is a fantastic second instalment in the Mara Brent Legal Thriller Series, sending us on an exciting legal adventure filled with memorable twists and striking the perfect balance between entertainment and realism.
If you’re a fan of the author and have enjoyed the previous book in the series, or are searching for a page-turner of a legal thriller to spend the weekend with, then I’d be more than glad to recommend this novel to you.
Robin James is an American attorney, author and former law professor who spent over a decade as a supervising attorney for a legal clinic in Michigan. She has authored the Class Leary and the Mara Brent Legal Thriller series, which include bestselling novels such as Time of Justice, Hand of Justice, Burden of Truth, Silent Witness and Mercy Kill.