Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: Claim of Innocence by Laura Caldwell

Claim of Innocence (Izzy McNeil Mysteries #4)
by Laura Caldwell
Release Date: August 23, 2011
2011 Mira Books
Paperback Edition; 438 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2932-9
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Source: Review Copy by Erin McNichols of Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.

3.5 / 5 Stars

It was a crime of passion–or so the police say. Valerie Solara has been charged with poisoning her best friend. The prosecution claims she's always been secretly attracted to Amanda's husband…and with Amanda gone, she planned to make her move.

Attorney Izzy McNeil left the legal world a year ago, but a friend's request pulls her into the murder trial. Izzy knows how passion can turn your life upside down. She thought she had it once with her ex–fiance, Sam. Now she wonders if that's all she has in common with her criminally gorgeous, younger boyfriend, Theo.

It's Izzy's job to present the facts that will exonerate her client–whether or not she's innocent. But when she suspects Valerie is hiding something, she begins investigating–and uncovers a web of secret passions and dark motives, where seemingly innocent relationships can prove poisonous…

My Thoughts
Claim of Innocence is the fourth installment of the Izzy McNeil Mysteries and it delivered a good, solid mystery with a lot of personal drama and intriguing, fascinating characters.  And while it helps to have read the previous novels in the series for background information, it is not necessary in order to enjoy this novel and it can definitely be read as a stand-alone.

One of the things I have always enjoyed about the series is the main character, Izzy McNeil.  I adore her tenacity and her vivaciousness and as silly as this sounds, I love the fact that she continues to drive a Vespa despite the encouragement of those around her to purchase a more 'suitable' vehicle for her profession.  There are many things that she does, both in court and out of it, that reveal her vulnerability and shows the reader how confused she can be about what life throws her way, and it makes her more approachable as a character and more endearing.  I liked that Izzy wasn't afraid to dig into her client's personal life in order to discover the secrets that her employers were afraid to discover, and while they were teaching her about life as a criminal lawyer, she was also, in turn, teaching them about bringing the personal back into their jobs.  While Izzy may have been the main character outside of the courtroom, she was not necessarily the main focus in the courtroom, and I liked that tremendously.  Despite all of this, she remained loyal and steadfast to her employers, who also happened to be one of her best friends and whose dad has always treated her as a grand-daughter.  I liked how these hard-core lawyers were not afraid of trying new things and testing new waters in order to do the best thing for their client.

The plotline surrounding Valerie Solara, the woman accused of murdering her best friend, was perhaps the weakest part of the novel.  While there were many twists and turns, I don't think avid readers and fans of legal thrillers would have been caught unaware in this novel.  Don't get me wrong as I enjoyed the plotline tremendously, but if I was truly reading because I wanted something unique and suspenseful, with a plotline that caught me off guard, this would not have been the one, as I predicted fairly early on what had happened.  I think I was in the mood for something light and entertaining, which was why I enjoyed this so much and the plotline didn't matter as much as it would have.  What I found was something that was low on violence and smutty language, entertaining, with a host of engaging characters I would certainly like to read about again. 

Claim of Innocence was a quick and entertaining read with a host of engaging characters.  With a setting that does not focus entirely on court legal drama, there is plenty of interest in the personal lives of the characters that adds a fun layer of mystery, romance, and intrigue to the story.  While definitely more on the light side of the legal drama, I still found it interesting, and I would recommend Claim of Innocence to those who are looking for something lighter and fun.