Janet Moodie has been approached by a fellow lawyer to assist him on a death row appeal. As Janet quickly finds out, “assisting” means handling almost all aspects of the appeal by herself.

Andy Hardy and his brother Emory were convicted of the rape and murder of two women.  Emory pinned the majority of the blame on Andy, fingering him as the leader.  Emory got a life sentence, while Andy was sent to death row.

Janet is quickly convinced that Emory, the younger brother, was the actual instigator and that he convinced Andy to go along with the plans.  Andy is mild-mannered and perhaps a bit mentally slow – not the prototypical criminal mastermind.

As Janet digs into Andy’s past, she uncovers family secrets.

Style

I don’t typically comment on a writer’s style, but I’m making an exception in this case.  Robertson is an excellent writer, with the story flowing very easily.  Many writers will have occasional rough transitions or awkward bits of dialogue, but there’s none of that in Two Lost Boys.  Although I’m definitely not trying to compare her to John Grisham, the easy flow of the story immediately reminded me of his style.  I think of it as “cruise control” reading, where my brain doesn’t have to do any work to navigate the actual text.

Story

Two Lost Boys is an interesting story.  We immediately know that the Hardy family has a troubled past.  Andy and Emory grew up with an abusive father, and everyone was relieved when he disappeared.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I had fun trying to guess how various pieces of the puzzle would fall into place.  I got some details right, some wrong, and there were some (relatively small) things that weren’t clear at the end.

Characters

Since the book is written from the first person perspective, Janet is the dominant character.  Janet is still haunted by the suicide of her husband.  She has pulled herself out of the rat race and is living in a simple house in the middle of nowhere.  She spends her time working on appellate cases, trying to help those whose are most desperate for it.  In the very beginning of the book, she buys a sweet roll and Dr. Pepper for a former client, and then promises to help straighten out an issue with his medication.  In showing us how she treats an inmate who isn’t even a current client, Robertson gives us a glimpse into the type of person she is.  I’m hoping the author develops a series featuring Janet.

Robertson does a good job of providing depth to several other characters.  There were many flawed characters in the book, but most of them were shades of gray, rather than being completely evil.  I found myself feeling sympathy for a character who had made many poor choices in life and was now facing very serious health issues as a result.  As I neared the end of the book, I felt myself occasionally feeling sorry for the character I suspected of being the true mastermind.

Verdict

This is one of the best books I have read recently – a very impressive debut novel.  If you like legal thrillers, you’ll definitely want to read it.

Two Lost Boys comes out tomorrow, May 16

[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Two Lost Boys for review purposes.]

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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