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Murder One    by Robert Dugoni order for
Murder One
by Robert Dugoni
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Murder One is the fourth (following The Jury Master, Wrongful Death and Bodily Harm) in Robert Dugoni's excellent legal thriller series starring ex-Marine/Seattle attorney David Sloane. As this episode opens, David is still grieving over the murder of his wife Tina in Bodily Harm, but maintains a strong relationship with his stepson Jake.

The novel opens on a judge's unexpected ruling that allows Russian Filyp Vasiliev, who was tried as a result of a DEA investigation, to walk on a technicality. Next, David Sloane encounters lovely Barclay Reid, who had been his adversary in the Kendall Toys case in Bodily Harm. They discover they have a great deal in common and develop strong feelings for each other. David learns that Barclay's daughter died of a drug overdose seven months before, and that she's been on a crusade against Vasiliev ever since. The drug dealer's thugs have been following Barclay and threaten Sloane.

After Barclay asks David to look into opening a civil suit against Vasiliev for wrongful death, the man is shot. Soon Barclay is arrested for murder and asks David ('the lawyer who does not lose') to represent her, even though all his experience has been in civil law. The case is complicated by the fact that the DEA still had Vasiliev under surveillance, and that David was also under police suspicion. And Barclay's ex, whom she claims was abusive, gives evidence against her, calling her a narcissistic sociopath. As always Sloane's best friend, ex-CIA agent Charles Jenkins, has his back, though he has his doubts about David's client.

Murder One is a solid and surprising legal thriller, one that tackles issues of love, need. and obsession. At the end of it all David understands himself better, realizing that his 'weak spot for people in need' makes him vulnerable. He concludes that 'Happy endings are only in the movies' and that 'You never know who's won until the game ends.'

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