The plot was refreshingly surprising in a few areas. While I thought I knew where it was going, it differed just enough to deliver that mild "Oh, okay, that's not quite what I expected" moment.
I have to admit that I knew who the killer was halfway through the book. That didn't really bother me as I still had enough doubt to make me want confirmation at the end.
I found the novel wanting in the interactions between Josie, the attorney and main character, and Hannah, the young defendant. There just didn't seem to be enough conversation between them. I understand Josie, as a defense attorney, not wanting to ask, or even know, if her client is guilty, in order to give a good defense. However, I would have thought that she would have at least wanted to hear Hannah's account of the events of that night. If nothing else, she would need to hear it to decide if Hannah should testify on her own behalf. But, the conversations between them were kept to a bare minimum, so much so that I found it very dubious that Hannah felt such a connection with Josie.
The book goes off course a few times when it switches to other people's viewpoints. I found that completely unnecessary to the story. It appeared to be a very forced way to try to keep up the suspense. Unfortunately, when portions of a story are told from other viewpoints in a mystery, I always feel like those sections are `fake'. For instance, if a novel switched to the viewpoint of a killer, telling you all of his or her thoughts, and the person never thinks about the killing at all, well, then, we didn't really get all of their thoughts, did we? I don't think people drop little clues to themselves in their own thoughts.
The switching of viewpoints was not done smoothly, either. Many times it was very abrupt, occuring in the middle of a scene.
Character Development: 4 3/4 Stars
Josie was very well developed in that we learned a lot about her. Unfortunately, the method of development was often her thinking the same recurring thoughts ad-nauseum. Okay, she was worried this case was like her old one. We got that. No need to beat a dead horse. Her transitional decision to represent Hannah, instead of referring her, which was the initial plan, was never really explained, but it was still in character. Overall, though, she was pretty likable, and I will enjoy reading more about her in this series.
Hannah was a very interesting character that created lots of empathy. In some scenes, you can really feel her pain.
Linda and Kip, Hannah's mother and step-father, were unlikable from the beginning. However, that was intended and fitting for the novel.
Writing Style: 5 Stars
The sentence structuring was terrific, making for a nice, easy read, without being too elementary. The descriptions were good, if a little overdone at times. The dialogue was believable.
Formatting/Editing: 3 Stars
There were quite a few editing issues, mostly missing words and punctuation.
The formatting suffered with chapters not beginning on new pages and odd spacing issues.
I gave up on Grisham after he got so formulaic. I heard about this series through the Kindle discussion boards, and figured I give it a chance, and I am so glad I did!
I very much enjoyed her style of writing, I believed all the characters, and I found it an intelligent, absorbing, exciting read that kept me engaged until the very last page. I have already recommended it to a friend of mine, and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the legal/mystery genre. I plan on starting the second book in the series tonight...
Edge of your Seat legal thriller!
The true test of a thriller is in keeping the book and rereading again! This is one of those. I have read HostileWitness, Silent Witness and Privileged Witness. Loved following the same characters through all three books. I am still waiting for the 4th book to bring us up to date with Hannah, Josie's mother, all of the folks so vividly described in exciting detail as the book moves at lightening speed, keeping me up nights to finish.
HostileWitness is the first book in the 'Witness Series' that includes Silent Witness and Privileged Witness and is an impressive introduction to the key characters: Josie Baylor-Bates is the talented lawyer who takes on the impossible murder case, defending the very troubled teenager Hannah Sheraton. As the story unfolds you get caught up in the drama of the storyline as well as the underlying issues of mother/daughter relationships. The characters develop over the course of the three books. Start with this one and get them all.
Great new series
I purchased this series because of some great reviews on the forum boards, and I wasn't disappointed. This book has some great characters that grab you right off the bat. Josie is a wonderful character and a very smart lawyer. The characters are developed well and the plot twists keep your attention. If you like lawyer mysteries then this is a great series for you. For those with Kindles, the formatting is great.
When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. Josie, once a hotshot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small pracitice in Hermosa Beach, California. But Hannah Sheraton intrigues her and, when the girl is charged as an adult, Josie cannot turn her back. But the deeper she digs the more Josie realizes that politics, the law and family relationships create a combustable and dangerous situation. When the horrible truth is uncovered it can save Hannah Sheraton or destroy them both.
"This story was inspired by a case my husband handled. As a superior court judge he had to sentence a minor to life in prison. It made me wonder how I felt about minors arrested for violent crimes. Are they most vulnerable among us - capable or horrible violence, perceived as adults and yet emotionally still children?" Rebecca Forster (rebeccaforste.com)
"An enthralling read, with colorful, well-developed characters and the unique atmosphere of the California beach communities." Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
"Blending complex psychological character portraits with spot-on accurage courtroom drmaa, Forster's riveting legal thriller keeps the plot twists coming until the last, satisfying page." - Alafair Burke