Her Deadly Game
March 7, 2023

Book Review

Her Deadly Game

reviewed by Carolyn Scott


Lawyer Keera Duggan was a successful prosecutor in Seattle before a relationship with a senior lawyer turned sour and she reluctantly left to join her father’s company as a lawyer for the defense.

Her father Patrick (known as Patsy) is legendary because of his fierce behavior in court causing him to be nicknamed the ‘Irish Brawler’. These days he drinks too much and is losing his edge, coming to rely more on his daughters, Keera and her sisters Ella and Maggie to keep his floundering business going.

So far, Keera’s cases in her father’s firm have been minor but that’s about to change. She receives a call from investment advisor, Vince LaRussa who has just found his wheelchair bound wife murdered in their home. Already being questioned by the police as their main suspect, he hires Keera’s father’s firm to represent him. This will be Keera’s first murder trial as a defence lawyer, but she’s a chess player and likes nothing better than planning strategy and playing the long game. However, she will be facing a formidable opponent as prosecutor, her former boss and lover Miller Ambrose, who also likes to play games and is determined to win the case by any means possible.

The novel is populated with a strong cast of interesting characters. Prior to the trial, the dynamics in Keera’s family are strained due to the competitiveness of the sisters the and jealousy of the middle sister Maggie who feels undervalued. Patsy’s addiction to alcohol also causes friction and tension at family gatherings. However, as the trial progresses, the family pull together and Keera’s closeness to Patsy and her strong belief in him helps him rise to the occasion. Prosecutor Miller Ambrose, arrogant and ambitious is a worthy opponent for Keera, but he’s outclassed by her at every turn. Keera is also helped by the investigating detective, Frank Rossi, who is a decent and ethical man, and has no time for Ambrose’s attempts at deception. Keera and Patsy also have an exceptional private investigator, JP Harrison who is exceptional at unearthing evidence, including messages Keera has been receiving from someone calling themselves Jack Worthing who seems to know something about LaRussa’s past.

Robert Dugoni is one of the best storytellers in this genre and has crafted a compelling and gripping plot with a satisfying ending. His own experience as a lawyer clearly contributes to the dynamic courtroom scenes and the gamesmanship that lawyers use against each other. As a youngster, Keera was taught to play chess by her father and became a junior chess champion and still likes to play challenging games online to wind down after work. The ongoing chess game in the novel works well in the novel as an analogy for Keera’s courtroom strategy, as just as in chess, she must always plan beyond her next move in the courtroom. The courtroom scenes are excellent, no doubt enriched by Dugoni’s own career as a lawyer. Highly recommended for all those who enjoy a cracking good murder mystery and character driven courtroom drama.

With thanks to Thomas & Mercer for a copy to read via Netgalley.

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