Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Innocence by David Hosp [Review]


Author: David Hosp (official author web site)

Copyright: 2007; Published by Warner Books, New York, ISBN 0-446-58014-7. (Review copy supplied by Hatchette Book Group USA)

Length: 416 pages

Genre: Legal suspense/thriller

Summary: Scott Finn is drawn into a case involving illegal immigrants against his better judgement. His is a one-man practice and he hasn't time or resources to devote to getting Vincente Salazar out of jail. Salazar was convicted of shooting a female police officer in the line of duty; attempts to clear his name and free him from jail will be received poorly by many, including some upon whom Finn depends in his professional life. By accepting the case, Finn, his private investigator friend, Tom Kozlowski, and Finn's law intern, Lissa, are caught up in a series of events ranging from spoken threats in an elevator to bloody, barbaric murder. Why is it so critical that an apparently innocent man remain in jail? Or was Salazar convicted appropriately with Finn about to engineer the release of a guilty man?

In Raymond Chandler's essay, The Simple Art of Murder, he commended Dashiell Hammett for writing "at first (and almost to the end) for people with a sharp, aggressive attitude to life. They were not afraid of the seamy side of things; they lived there. Violence did not dismay them; it was right down their street." David Hosp is doing his best to write in that tradition. His plots require violent action as much as they require honesty about the flaws in our law enforcement and legal systems. The pace of the action is rapid; the reader is swept along. Characterization might not be handled with the depth found in reading P.D. James but, while on stage, these characters, first introduced in Hosp's Dark Harbor, have enough energy to maintain the reader's interest.

Extract: Available here. I will warn readers that I found the prologue (which actually precedes the extract in the book itself) to be fairly violent. Naturally, it presents the crime in context but some readers may find such an opening off-putting.

Also Relevant: Hosp makes a point about our legal system, articulating the points of friction that will inevitably exist in life, due to the limits of forensic science, the demands of society, and the emotional tensions experienced by victim, criminal and enforcer. Is Finn a modern Philip Marlowe, neither tarnished nor afraid? To return again to Raymond Chandler, he is intended to be "... a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world."

The testosterone runs fairly high in this one; with some exceptions, the action is largely through the eyes of the male characters (good and bad). Female characters are tough and mouthy because the males are largely tough and silent.

Given that my personal taste runs to poison in a teacup or injury inflicted by a heavy pewter candlestick, I don't think that I'm quite the intended audience for Innocence. That said, I think there is an audience out there for Innocence who are likely to find it a satisfying read.