Reviewer Karen Dahood : Karen lives in Tucson, AZ. After 35 years as a writer for businesses and nonprofits, she has turned to writing mysteries,the subtext of which addresses ageism, unpreparedness for aging, and America's wealth of experience and wisdom. Learn more about eldersleuth Sophie George at the Website Moxie Cosmos; Making Sense of Life Through Writing.
Author: D.B. Martin
Publisher: IM Books, 2014
Lawrence A. Juste, a London barrister at the top of his professional form, is brought to his knees when his very useful wife, deeply involved in charity work, is killed in a hit-and-run accident. She has left him with a case file and a request he can’t ignore, to defend a young boy, Danny, who is accused of mugging and killing an elderly woman. Not only does the boy’s predicament dredge up unhappy memories of the widower’s impoverished childhood, but resolving it honestly will require Lawrence to expose his past wrongdoings and lose his chance at a prestigious judicial appointment.
The plot development pushes Juste toward the reconciliation of his personal and professional identities. He had changed his name from Kenny Jus to distance himself from the things he did to climb out of a brutal beginning and secure his dream. His hero is the fictional lawyer, Atticus Finch, who did what he believed to be the right thing despite violent opposition. The violence Lawrence/Kenny now confronts seeps out of his relationships with his several siblings, some he never knew, and ignites in the shock of discovering that his wife may have been manipulating his downfall.
Juste’s choices are informed by a gradual awareness of his emotions that have been suppressed all these years. He feels joy in finding Danny to be a relatively innocent young boy worth saving, and he can imagine a future of genuine love in the warm, sensual presence of Danny’s social worker. Yet every day going into the trial brings him closer to his discarded painful life.
This is not an easy book to read. Evil lurks here. The narrator (Juste) is just short of bitter, and always afraid. The tone tends toward the ironic and the vocabulary intellectual as he tries to remain in control. Yet it is vividly humane. Two lines stand out as hallmarks of the author’s message: “It ain’t real life unless it’s personal,” and, explaining the title, “A patchwork person – for that’s what we all are, cobbled together by the thread of life.”
Patchwork Man is as
compelling as last year’s psychologically taut, legal procedural
“Apple Tree Yard” by Louise Doughty, and is as unrelentingly
concerned with social justice for the poor as Elizabeth George’s
stunning “What Came Before He Shot Her” (Inspector Lynley Book
14, 2006). Like those authors, D.B. Martin is not afraid to bring her
readers to unpleasant realities, distasteful characters, and to moral
questions that have no simple or, perhaps, any permanent solutions.
Fair warning: She has two more tantalizing books in this
thought-provoking and sometimes gut-wrenching series.
Follow Here To Purchase Patchwork Man (Patchwork People Book 1)