Julie Compton – Tell No Lies (2008) (another rte one and again very understandably not used!)

Jack Hilliard is the bright young star of the St Louis public prosecutor’s office. He has a brilliant court-room manner, a developed conscience and a happy family life with his wife Claire and their two sons. When his boss Earl, the District Attorney, retires from the job, Jack is the obvious candidate to replace him. He puts all this in jeopardy as a result of his entanglement with lawyer Jenny Dodson. When he finally sleeps with her the results are catastrophic, as Jenny is accused of a murder and only Jack can save her by providing an alibi for the night in question; his entire world rapidly unravels.

As this is a first novel it feels incumbent upon the reviewer to find some positives. So I will say that, as a Brit, I found the account of Jack’s election campaign intriguing. He is against the death penalty, but in order to get elected must disguise this fact by using various circumlocutions. But for non-Americans the whole idea of posts such as District Attorney being electable ones is full of fascination. I do not know if this interest would hold good for American readers.

But this is all. Reading this book is like wading through treacle. Almost nothing happens for 250 pages. We are treated to an enormously lengthy account of Jack’s feelings about Claire, Jenny, his job, the election campaign, his brother Mark and everything else. None of these characters is interesting enough to grip the reader’s attention or divert from the lack of excitement. When things do start to happen it is Jack’s own disintegration and the collapse of his family life which provide the main focus, not the murder plot; the latter, such as it is, is stunningly obvious. The obligatory court-room scene is all about Jack’s relationship to Claire. Mystery readers will spot the so-called twist a mile off. One reaches the last page with a slight feeling of incredulity – surely there must be something more? Well there is not. Unless you are really interested in the nuts and bolts of a District Attorney election procedure I regret that I cannot but recommend giving this book a wide berth.

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