Neil White is a new to me author, and one that is now on the to be read list. FROM THE SHADOWS is the first in the Dan Grant / defence lawyer series. It appears that there is also a 5 or so book series based around DC Laura McGanity, 3 books in the Joe & Sam Parker series and at least one standalone. Which begs the question why did it take so long for me to notice? Now I'm really kicking myself as if FROM THE SHADOWS, lawyer Dan Grant and his investigator Jayne Brett are anything to go by, I've got quite a few books to slot into the impossibly large reading queue in these parts.
Legal thrillers can sometimes be a little hit and miss for this reader, with the reason for a lawyer doing a bit of investigating on the part of their clients not always absolutely believable. The inclusion in this novel of Jayne Brett smooths a lot of that, as is the idea that Grant finds himself handling the case of accused murder Robert Carter at the very last minute. All of the setup items in the plot work well, providing context and motivation without the need for suspension of disbelief.
The two main characters, Dan Grant and Jayne Brett are well defined, flawed and capable of working closely together. The relationship is friendly, the reasons for their working partnership and brand of friendship are feasible, plus there's co-operation with just enough angst to make them believable. Grant might be the good bloke in the scenario but that's not overblown or sanctimonious, his difficult relationship with his disapproving father an ongoing thorn in his side. Brett on the other hand has a more dangerous spectre hanging over her head, with the family of her dead abusive boyfriend out for revenge. The inclusion of a strong supporting cast of different types of people gives the human factors of the plot much to work with - from Grant's business partner, through to the lawyer originally tasked with the defence of Robert Carter, and those close to the victim.
The plot's well done, with a good contrast between the requirements of defending the accused and a search for the truth come what may. Brett is a good investigator - dogged, determined and fearless without being overly reckless, she's able to work her way into conversation with many people, quietly looking for the reasons behind so much reluctance on the part of witnesses to get involved, or if they do, why they are telling so many lies. All the while there's an unknown person lurking and threatening. This aspect isn't overblown, it bubbles along in the background, adding to the tension, without feeling manipulative or staged.
A terrific thriller, FROM THE SHADOWS, is fast-paced and populated by extremely interesting characters embroiled in a clever story plot that twists, turns and sneaks around more than enough to keep the reader guessing until the end.