Review: Plea of Insanity by Jillianne Hoffman

3 Stars

I think there are possibly more editions of this book, because the plot outline I’d originally read for this book did not match up with everything I read in the book.  I think that this edition has been edited from a previous edition.  The edition I read was a Kindle version published in 2008 by Thomas & Mercer.  My review is for this edition and no others.

The story revolves around Assistant States Attorney Julia Vacanti, a young prosecuting attorney in Miami Florida.  She’s a B trial lawyer.  She handles domestic abuse, drug charges and lesser felonies.  She seems to be a rising star in the States Attorney Office and a bane to many judges and defense attorneys.  She has caught the eye of Rick Bellido, he is THE star of the office.  He tries all the big cases and is in line for the top spot.  And it doesn’t hurt that he’s both easy to look at and they have a budding office romance.  Inexplicably, Rick gives her the chance of a lifetime.  The case that could make her career.

David Marquette, young and successful surgeon is accused of murdering his wife and children.  His influential parents have pulled together an impressive legal team and their defense is that he was suffering a psychotic break and is not guilty by reason of insanity.  David, according to family and experts, was an undiagnosed schizophrenic and his mental illness caused him to to take the lives of his family.

For Julia, this case is close, too close.  She has a secret that no one knows about.  Her brother, Andrew, took the lives of her parents 15 years earlier.  He was later diagnosed as schizophrenic and his mental illness is what caused him to lose touch with reality and take the lives of those closest to him.  Julia survived only because she was not home that night and has spent the last 15 years trying to forget.

I did have some issues with the story, mainly with Julia.  She should have recused herself from the trial, there was a true conflict of interest here and it became nearly debilitating as the trial went on.  What could have been a cathartic experience seemed to make Julia weaker and even less sure of herself.  The addition of her to the trial team didn’t really make sense either.  The only explanation that the reader can truly come to is her romantic involvement with the lead attorney.  That sadly diminishes Julia somewhat.

I wish there was less backstory and information about Julia, and more trial scenes.  Even more scenes with the accused, David Marquette.  I think more attention could have been paid to him and his story.  I enjoyed his parts in the novel more than I did Julia’s internal struggle.  You were left with many questions about David.  Is he really insane?  Is he a psychopath?  A sociopath?  Is he really schizophrenic?  I think so much was left unsaid on his side of the story that it actually took away from the book.

I put this solidly in the middle of the rating scale because it was still an enjoyable read.  I just wish Julia had been a little stronger and more attention had been paid to David.  I have heard good things about this particular author, and I think I’ll be looking into some of her other works too.

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Filed under Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

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