Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Conviction

Stephanie Perry reviews Robert Dugoni’s new courtroom drama, The Conviction. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy!
the conviction: robert dugoni

The Conviction: A Novel, Robert Dugoni (Touchstone; 384 pp.; 2012; $25)

I’m not a huge fan of the courtroom drama genre, but a well-written book is a well-written book, regardless of where in the bookstore it’s shelved. So when the latest novel by Seattle author/lawyer Robert Dugoni crossed my desk — with bloody handcuffs on the cover, no less — I was curious enough to give it a chance. While it may not be very reassuring for parents, The Conviction is a fast-paced, enjoyably silly page-turner with a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter.

Superstar attorney David Sloane is struggling to save his teenage son, Jake, who has spiraled into drinking and depression after witnessing his mother’s violent murder 9 months before. After keeping him out of jail yet again, David is desperate to connect with Jake. When David’s detective friend, Tom Molia, suggests they take their kids on a camping trip in southern California, it sounds like the perfect opportunity for some father-son bonding. But things deteriorate rapidly when Jake convinces the other boy, TJ, to break into a general store and steal alcohol in the middle of the night. Before David and Tom even wake up, the boys have been arrested, hastily tried without legal representation, and whisked away to a six-month sentence at Fresh Start, the county’s juvenile detention camp hidden deep in the wilderness.

David and Tom team up to fight the unjust conviction, but they quickly discover that Judge Earl Boykin, who sentenced the boys, seems to have control over just about everything that happens in the county, including an ominously cozy relationship with law enforcement. Meanwhile, Jake and TJ are enduring physical and mental abuse, starvation, and humiliation at the hands of their sadistic guards…and learning that there’s much more to this mysterious work camp than rehabilitating juvenile delinquents. The frantic fathers battle intimidation, deception, and outright corruption to rescue their sons, but can their legal skills save the boys before they’re seriously injured — or even killed?

While the initial set-up is far-fetched but plausible (anyone who has a teen, or has been a teen, knows how quickly their bad decisions can spiral into a crisis), the story relies on some fairly tired clichés to keep the action moving along. Redneck small-town cops, leering sex offenders, and sadistic guards feel like cartoonish villains next to the more realistic and nuanced characters of our heroes. The courtroom scenes and legal proceedings, on the other hand, felt convincing to this non-lawyer. The climactic ending forces you to accept some highly unlikely plot twists, but overall the plot is thrillingly action-packed and it’s surprisingly tough to put down. But you don’t have to take my word for it — we’re giving away a free copy, so you can judge for yourself!

Giveaway! {Closed Feb. 8}

Want to win a free hardcover copy of The Conviction? Just answer this question in the comments and you’ll be entered. We’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, Feb. 8!

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7 thoughts on “Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Conviction

  1. Ann McFarlane

    I really enjoyed “The Attorney” by Steve Martini. Not a new book, but it was new to me.

  2. Kimberly Loges

    I’m looking forward to reading Defending Jacob by William Landay. I keep hearing good things about it.

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