by Mark McGinn
Presumed Guilty is a standalone novel, the third book in the Sasha Stace series.
Sasha is a lawyer in New Zealand’s South Island. After many years at the bar, she is weary of criminal law. She’s tired of “living in a world where two showers a day is not enough.” Promotion to the High Court bench offers a brighter future, but when her ex-partner faces murder charges, Sasha agrees to defend him, and puts that future at risk.
Sasha is an intriguing and sympathetic character. The dramatic courtroom scenes are well drawn, and shadowy political plotters add to the suspense. The author builds a realistic backdrop with detailed descriptions of the murder scene and beautiful coastal Akaroa. The criminals are convincingly creepy and ruthless, and some of them meet suitably nasty fates. The author keeps some shocking and unexpected twists for the very end. They’re worth waiting for.
The large supporting cast and weight of back history distract from the flow of events on occasion. I didn’t want to know quite so much about Sasha’s personal issues and family dramas, either. Sasha is a strong, independent woman. She doesn’t need a wrapping of domesticity to make her real. And I’m not sure the inclusion of various Australians adds much to an already complex plot. But these are minor quibbles.
I love the New Zealand setting, and the mix of courtroom drama and criminal investigation. Sasha’s integrity overcomes the forces of evil, a universal theme which adds to the story’s appeal.
I recommend Presumed Guilty to readers of crime fiction.
Author: Mark McGinn
Publisher: Merlot Publishing
ISBN: 978 15 436 1860 8
Available: from all good bookstores.