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Under Fire    by Margaret McLean order for
Under Fire
by Margaret McLean
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

It's hard to believe that Margaret McLean (who has years of experience as a criminal prosecutor) is a first-time novelist. Her writing speaks of experience in her new field. Her debut courtroom thriller, Under Fire, is a winner and the Boston Globe has named her as one of the Next Faces of Boston Crime Fiction.

A Boston firefighter is shot to death while trying to rescue a Senegalese shopkeeper and her son from a fire. Amina and her son Malick lived above the shop. The question is, who would shoot a fireman doing his job? Also, was it arson? If so, did the woman start it for the $1,000,000 in insurance money?

Former prosecutor Sarah Lynch and her Uncle Buddy, a defense lawyer, take on the woman's case. What follows is courtroom drama at its finest. The characters are finely drawn and come alive under McLean's expertise. Uncle Buddy's colorful bowties take on a persona all of their own.

Quahog, one of the jurors, is so obnoxious and racist you want to punch him on the nose. On the other side of the coin is the foreman, who is a gentleman through and through. Sarah dedicates herself to help Amina. Even though Amina's story is one of hardship, she conducts herself with dignity.

Under Fire takes a moment to point out the racist attitudes that still exist in this country. They are not applauded or condemned simply acknowledged. It's a fine book from a first-time author. I look forward to more exciting work from Margaret McLean.

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