September 1, 2011

Book Review: CLAIM OF INNOCENCE by Laura Caldwell

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Forbidden relationships are the most tempting. And the most dangerous.

It was a crime of passion–or so the police say. Valerie Solara has been charged with poisoning her best friend. The prosecution claims she's always been secretly attracted to Amanda's husband…and with Amanda gone, she planned to make her move.

Attorney Izzy McNeil left the legal world a year ago, but a friend's request pulls her into the murder trial. Izzy knows how passion can turn your life upside down. She thought she had it once with her ex–fiance, Sam. Now she wonders if that's all she has in common with her criminally gorgeous, younger boyfriend, Theo.

It's Izzy's job to present the facts that will exonerate her client–whether or not she's innocent. But when she suspects Valerie is hiding something, she begins investigating–and uncovers a web of secret passions and dark motives, where seemingly innocent relationships can prove poisonous…

I love a good legal mystery and if the mystery comes with a hero or heroine that I really like and it has a good personal drama and/or romance thrown in, I am there.  Claim of Innocence by Laura Caldwell delivered.  It is a solid legal mystery with strong characters and addictive writing.

This was my first novel by Ms. Caldwell and she did not disappoint.  Despite Claim of Innocence being the fourth  installment of the Izzy McNeil series, and the first that I have read, I was easily able to pick up the book and delve in.  And did I!

Claim of Innocence is a fast read, if for no other reason than you will find yourself as tenacious as Izzy is during the course of the book, flipping the pages and keeping that light on late into the evening to find resolution to both the legal case at issue and Izzy's personal life.  In this regard, Claim of Innocence is unique because Izzy is both a main character driving a major plotline as well as being a secondary character to the legal drama.

I was pleased to discover that the mystery surrounding Valerie Solara was not quickly telegraphed from the beginning and had enough twists and turns to keep things humming.  Valerie wasn't an easy to character to decipher, either by myself or by Izzy, and such questions were like an addictive drug, keeping me coming back for more.   

I enjoyed Izzy because she seemed real.  She works hard, she (stubbornly) rides a Vespa and she's torn between the present and what she could have in her future dependent upon her past.  She's also a devoted friend to Maggie, who brings her into the legal fray of the questions surrounding Valerie Solara.  I liked that Izzy really dug into Valerie and her life to find answers to her questions and that she did not commit, in this reader's opinion, the cardinal sin of committing foolhardy and dangerous actions in order to move a plot forward.  You won't find any of that in Ms. Caldwell's book.

What you will find is an engrossing, if relatively light, end of summer read that is low-cal on the violence, with a generous side of sexual situations and a very rich and fattening hearty storyline.  Ms. Caldwell's writing is quick and fast paced; at no time will you find this story sluggish or slow to get moving.  She drops the reader into the action from the first page and will keep you hanging on until the last sentence.  I found myself thinking that this book would be a fantastic airplane read because it's such an obsessive read, you will be disappointed if your flight is actually on time, requiring you to put the book down.

I was happy with the overall tone and direction of the story and closed the book hoping that I would have further legal exploits with Izzy and company.  I would not hesitate to recommend Claim of Innocence to readers who enjoy a good legal drama, a good mystery and/or a book with romantic angst as a neat little subplot.  Job well done, Ms. Caldwell.

Claim of Innocence is available for purchase at major booksellers now, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Laura Caldwell, please visit her website.

Review copy of this book provided by Meryl L. Moss Media Relations in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

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