Author: Patrick Hyde
The following review of the Advanced Review Copy was contributed by: NORM GOLDMAN: Editor of Bookpleasures. CLICK TO VIEW Norm Goldman's Reviews
With The Only Pure Thing, veteran D.C. criminal lawyer Patrick Hyde marks his debut into the world of legal thrillers as he weaves a tale of suspense ending with a captivating twist.
Stuart Clay, who is a member of the prestigious law firm of Mitchell & Strong, has been assigned as public defender to a vagrant by the name of Cleveland Barnes accused of beheading Benny Batiste, an unsavory character who passed himself off as a businessman working as a manager of Seabreeze Trucking. Apparently, he had been an un-indicted codefendant in a smuggling prosecution filed against members of a well-known Mafia family.
Batiste had been last seen leaving the Potomac Club on the arms of a blond woman in her early twenties believed to be a prostitute. Minutes after their departure, a college student walking down the sidewalk discovers Batiste’s head on a parking meter, while his headless torso is found fifteen feet away in a parking lot. There are no witnesses and the blond woman has mysteriously disappeared. The murder weapon was believed to be an ax or heavy sword as evidenced from the serration that severed Batiste’s head. Barnes was the prime suspect as he was found loitering close to the scene of the murder wearing bloody shoes that belonged to the murdered victim. At the time of his arrest, the accused stated that he “was on a mission for Mabutek and seeking justice for the people who founded the District of Colombia.”
The prosecuting attorney appointed to try the case is Lisa Stein, an ex-fiancée of Clay, whom he in fact jilted. When the two meet, there is quite a bit of tension between them as they discuss the evidence the district attorney’s office has in its possession which it is reluctant to share with Clay. To aid him in his investigation and in the defense of Barnes, Clay persuades an experienced private investigator, Cyndi Oh to join him. What is somewhat bizarre is that Clay’s law partners, after they received a call from Judge Robideaux, who will be presiding over the case, decide to give him a pro bono backup second counsel, Parcival Diel. It turns out that Diel’s father is an important client of the firm who has significant economic interests in the vicinity where the crime was committed.
Thrown into the puzzle is someone claiming to be Barnes’ sister, a Voodoo priestess by the name of Ivyroot Malveaux or as she prefers to be called, Ruthie and her friend Amanda Sewell. Ruthie threatens to close down the courthouse if her brother is not released. As for Amanda, it turns out that her son, Wendall seems to have more than a passing interest in seeing Barnes exonerated.
Hyde has whipped up a tangled complex tale replete with a diverse set of mad characters enhanced with his knowledge of the legal profession. This is much in evidence from the pages he devotes to a criminal trial from the moment the accused is first brought before the courts to its subsequent proceedings. Moreover, the plot’s well-pacing with its twists and turns continually deceive readers- keeping them off balance until the last page.