In case you don’t know, John Lescroart is the author of a great courtroom drama series set in San Francisco. Unlike Grisham, who also writes best-selling courtroom dramas, Lescroart actually knows how to write a good sentence in English. For those who love San Francisco (and how is it possible not to love this magical city?), Lescroart’s novels will be especially interesting to read. Even if your vision of San Francisco is different from Lescroart’s, you can’t fail to find his admiration for the city to be infectious.
Lescroart became famous as the creator of the Hardy / Glitsky series featuring Dismas Hardy, a lawyer, and his best friend Abe Glitsky, a police officer. Both Hardy and Glitsky are complex, interesting characters who are often tortured and always far from perfect. A little while ago, Lescroart must have decided that the Hardy / Glitsky series had played itself out and came up with a new protagonist for a new series: Wyatt Hunt. The resulting The Hunt Club, Treasure Hunt (Wyatt Hunt), and A Plague of Secrets were so weak that they almost made me abandon this writer for good. With the Wyatt Hunt character, Lescroart committed what is a huge mistake for such an experienced author: he created a protagonist who is so perfect as to be completely disgusting. Wyatt Hunt is an athlete, a musician, an investigator and a know-it-all whose favorite things to do are to save damsels in distress and rescue abused children under dramatic circumstances. In order to make him even more attractive, Lescroart surrounded him with extremely pathetic characters whose goal was to present Hunt with even more opportunities to shine.
Tonight, however, Lescroart finally released a novel that lives up to his erstwhile standards. Damage finally abandons the inane goody-two-shoes of Wyatt Hunt and his coterie of helpless losers and focuses on Lescroart’s trademark characters Abe Glitsky and the hippie lawyer turned District Attorney Wes Farrell. (Hardy’s fans need to be forewarned that Hardy appears only briefly in Damage.)
I had pre-ordered this novel on Kindle several months ago. Yesterday, I stayed up until 2 am (the time when Amazon sends out pre-ordered new releases) because I couldn’t keep waiting any longer to see how this novel would turn out. Then, I couldn’t sleep because I just needed to read it. Today, I’m happy to report that the novel is definitely worth all that trouble. It’s really good. There are great courtroom scenes which, however, are not excessive. There is a mystery that keeps you in suspense until the end (although, I have to confess that I guessed some of it. Still, that’s not surprising given the extent of my familiarity with this author’s books.) There are personal dramas, power struggles, corruption, and truly memorable characters. In short, this is one of Lescroart’s best novels, and this is saying a lot with such a prolific and gifted author.