One Sentence Synopsis
Adrien Rush, a federal civil rights prosecutor, finds himself trying a case in Lynnwood, Louisiana after a night where five burning crosses are left around town to strike fear into the hearts of the minority community.
“Rush disliked being called counselor. Agents invoked the term using particularly clear diction and more than a hint of derision, or at least that’s how Rush saw it. Being labeled counselor was an agent’s way of emphasizing that the lawyer might have an advanced education, but the juris doctor degree didn’t come with street smarts or investigatory experience.”
Before I get into my review, I want to thank the publisher, Greenleaf Book Group Press, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! I should also apologize for it taking so long for me to finally get my review up 😅 This one took me awhile… well, we’ll get into it in the review.
Let me start this off saying that I did enjoy this book, in the end. It just… wasn’t what I was expecting? We follow the story of Adrien Rush, a federal civil rights prosecutor who is assigned a case involving cross burnings in Louisiana. The story starts with some graphic images of hate, which definitely draws you in quickly and will have you invested. You want to see the people who commit this crime face justice! The story follows the search for the culprits, the trial, and a little bit of the personal life of our main character, Adrien.
First, I want to say that I really enjoyed this author’s writing. Michael McAuliffe has a way with words that draws you into the story and makes you feel personally invested. I mean, I’m also a Black woman, so I can’t help but be personally invested in a story featuring blatant hate crimes. I think the author handles this extremely touchy topic with care and thoughtfulness. There isn’t a ton of action as most of the story is focused on the procedure of bringing the culprits to justice, but the action that there is will capture you.
But I think the lack of action is where I kind of hit a roadblock with this book. I went into the story thinking it was a thriller and it turned out to be more of a courtroom drama. And, as I am learning my reading tastes, I realize that I’m not a huge fan of courtroom dramas 😅 It just seemed to draaaag and I found myself getting kind of bored. That being said, once the action left the courtroom and focused more on the characters, I became much more interested.
I did enjoy our main character, Adrien Rush. It was interesting getting inside his head and learning more about him. He was a well fleshed-out character that I connected with quickly. The other characters, however, fell a little flat for me. They all seemed kind of one dimensional and like props to boost Adrien’s story. And I didn’t really care for the random romance that was thrown in. It seemed pretty unnecessary, if sweet in a way. I felt like this story should have either focused on the characters and the effects of this heinous crime on the people involved OR on the legal stuff. Bouncing back and forth was a bit jarring.
Still, I did end up enjoying this story and I have to credit the ending. Ugh, that ending! There were a lot of emotions and I thought it was well-paced and compelling. It left me with a feeling of satisfaction, even though it wasn’t the ending that I was expecting. It was a fantastic finish!
Final thoughts: This book had great writing and compelling storyline, though I was kind of thrown off by all the courtroom drama portions. The character study of Adrien is great and the little bits of action are very exciting! Though it hit a lull towards the middle, the end will leave you feeling a lot of feelings. If you enjoy courtroom dramas that also take a look at the human component, I think you would enjoy this book!