Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

Book Reviews: Never Goodbye and The Best Friend by Adam Mitzner

In two sequels to Dead Certain, Ella Broden and her father become continuing characters.

Never Goodbye

Thomas & Mercer, 2018, 341 pages

After her sister was murdered, Ella Broden meted out her own punishment, then abandoned her career to pursue her passion as a singer. But another murder that hits close to home draws her back to seek justice.

Dana Goodwin is the newly appointed deputy chief in the Special Victims Bureau, replacing Ella. For her, the case is also personal, but behind Dana's relentless pursuit, her motives might be running deeper than anyone can see. Her secrets, too.

Connecting the two women is Ella's boyfriend, Gabriel Velasquez, who has teamed up with Dana to investigate the murder.

At first Ella thinks all she has to fear about this case is what she knows - that she could be the next target of a man's obsession. But the closer she works with Dana, the more she starts to believe that the most dangerous thing of all is what she doesn't know.

Adam Mitzner's legal thrillers rely heavily on relationship melodrama, but in this one he spends the last half of the book leaning on courtroom procedural drama before pulling a twist that I saw coming early.

In Never Goodbye, he has apparently decided to create an ongoing character out of former District Attorney Ella Broden, who in Dead Certain had to solve the murder of her sister Charlotte through a shifting POV told through the narrative device of her dead sister's unfinished manuscript.

Now Ella Broden returns as one of two POV characters. The other is Dana Goodwin, who has replaced Ella as assistant DA to Ella's old boss, Lauren. Dana's picture perfect life with her sweet husband Stuart and her little boy Jacob comes apart when Lauren is murdered. Initially we shift back and forth between Ella and Dana's perspectives as they both investigate the murder: then Dana is suddenly arrested for the murder, and Ella is offered her old job back to prosecute her. The rest of book is shifting between Dana as defendant and Ella as prosecutor.

So there is a murder mystery here which the author keeps cagey about by denying us access to information that Dana knows. There were obvious hints early on that her marriage was not the perfect image it was represented to be, and the red herrings are obvious, but I found it a bit of a cheat for Dana to not "reveal" crucial facts to the reader until the climax, even though she's known them all along, in order to preserve suspense about whether or not she actually killed her boss.

That said, this book still delivered a satisfying resolution, and I enjoyed it enough to start the third Broden mystery.

The Best Friend

Thomas & Mercer, 2020, 320 pages

From the author of Dead Certain comes a twisting novel of friendship, love, and marriage - and all their cunning and deadly betrayals.

Back in 1986, Clint Broden was a novice New York defense attorney building a family with his wife, Anne, and impatient for his career to take off. That’s when his defense of his closest friend, Nick Zamora, made headlines. In spite of his lingering suspicions that his soul mate since childhood had a secret, Clint was dedicated to believing Nick hadn’t murdered his new bride.

Three decades later, Clint is now the celebrated go-to attorney for the rich and famous. Nick is a lauded literary superstar living his dreams in Los Angeles. Though separated by 30 years and 3,000 miles, they’re still bound by one thing - the trial that tested the limits of their friendship.

After all these years, the last thing Clint expects is to be pulled back into Nick’s disruptive life. But this time, his motives for getting involved might be different from proving his old friend’s innocence. It could be Clint’s last chance to force a reckoning with the sins of the past.

The third book in the "Broden Legal" series is not about Ella Broden, but her father, Clint Broden, who in the previous two books was just Ella's big name trial lawyer daddy. Now, the events related in the previous books — the death of Ella's sister, Charlotte, and the death of their mother when they were children — are reexamined through Clint Broden's eyes.

The plot is another one split between two events and multiple POVs. When Clint was a young, hungry lawyer, his young, hungry writer friend Nick married a beautiful woman, only for her to drown in her bathtub less than a year later. Clint defended his friend on a murder charge (of course Nick was charged for murder, because as even Clint put it, "23-year-old women do not drown in their bathtubs"), who maintained his innocence. Clint got Nick acquitted, but the experience caused their friendship to wither away.

Now, many years later, Clint is a rich Manhattan defense attorney, and Nick is a rich bestselling writer married to a Hollywood starlet. And Nick's new wife, who is half his age, is found drowned in the ocean after they had an argument at a cast party.

Naturally, Clint will end up defending Nick again.

Once again, the author preserves some of the mystery by switching POVs, from Nick to Clint, and sometimes to Clint's deceased wife. There are twists around both cases, although in at least one we are told, through the POV narration, what really happened. And as in the previous book, the second half of this one is mostly courtroom procedural, which Mitzner, being a lawyer-writer, describes in much more realistic detail than you get on Law & Order.

I liked this book better than the previous one. I was wondering how long Mitzner would be able to milk Ella as a main character, but here she is a secondary one only making cameos (still with her cop boyfriend).

Also by Adam Mitzner: My reviews of A Conflict of Interest, Dead Certain, and A Matter of Will.

My complete list of book reviews.
Tags: adam mitzner, books, mystery, reviews

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