I picked up Robert Dugoni's debut novel The Jury Master back in 2006. I quite enjoyed it, but for some unknown reason, I hadn't read another of his books until I picked up his latest - The Conviction. (I know I've missed a lot of good reads in between.)
Lawyer David Sloane is Dugoni's recurring character. He's known as 'the lawyer who does not lose'. In the courtroom maybe, but in his personal life Sloane has suffered some losses. His partner Tina was brutally murdered - in front of her son Jake. Jake is dealing with his grief by abusing drugs and alcohol and engaging in petty crimes that are rapidly escalating. Sloane had raised the boy with Tina. In a last ditch effort to keep him out of detention, Sloan agrees to get him sucessfully through rehab this time. When an old friend, Detective Tom Molia, invites Sloan and Jake on a camping trip with him and his son T.J., it seems like a great idea.
And it was....until Jake decides that breaking into a local business in the small town of Truluc is a good idea...and he has T.J. was with him. Unbelievably, the boys are caught, tried and convicted within six hours and sent to Fresh Start, a local boot camp, for six months. All without their fathers' knowledge.....
Oh, this was such a page turner! Although, sometimes I didn't want to turn the page, fearing the worst, but needing to know to know what would happen next. As Sloane and Molia work feverishly on the outside to get the boys released, Jake and TJ struggle to survive inside the camp. And I feverishly kept turning pages.
Dugoni's main premise for The Conviction has it's basis in reality. Stories of abusive youth detention camps are fact - not fiction.
I had forgotten how much I liked the David Sloan character. I'm fascinated by the courtroom drama and legal machinations. (And Dugoni does these well - he worked as a litigator before turning to writing.) But for me the best legal stories have elements outside of the courtroom as well - legal thrillers seems to be an apt description. Sloan is a bigger than life character in both arenas, willing to do whatever it takes to free the boys. He's the guy you'd want in your corner.
The Conviction has it all - great plotting (with twists I didn't see coming at all), non stop action, chills, thrills, strong characters and a clearly defined good vs. bad dynamic that will have you on the edge of your seat and staying up late to finish.
The Conviction can certainly be read as a stand alone, but if you're like me, you'll be hunting down the previous books in the series. Highly recommended. Read an excerpt of The Conviction.
You can find Robert Dugoni on Facebook and on Twitter.
And thanks to the great folks at Touchstone, I have a copy of The Conviction to giveaway. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, ends August 18/12.