Sent to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 16/05/17
Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback, 400pp
Summed up in a word: Appeal
Welcome to my stop on the Two Lost Boys blog tour hosted by Titan Books. Thank you as always to Philippa at Titan for including me on these tours, much appreciated. There are plenty of brilliant blogs taking part on the tour so make sure you check them out too. (See poster at the bottom for more details).
Two Lost Boys is a law novel that addresses the more technical and bureaucratic side of the legal system in America. More specifically it deals with death row appeals. I found the technical side very interesting and insightful; the legal system in the US seems so much more complicated compared to here in the U.K. I recommend the book to readers who prefer detailed plot over suspense/thrills. Check out my full review below.
Janet Moodie has spent years as a death row appeals attorney. Overworked and recently widowed, she’s had her fill of hopeless cases, and is determined that this will be her last. Her client is Marion ‘Andy’ Hardy, convicted along with his brother Emory of the rape and murder of two women. The brothers were tried separately, and Emory received a life sentence, while Andy got the death penalty, labeled the ringleader despite his low IQ and Emory’s dominant personality.
Convinced that Andy’s previous lawyers have missed mitigating evidence that would have spared him the death penalty, Janet investigates Andy’s past, revealing a sordid and damaging upbringing, a series of errors on the part of his previous council, and most worrying of all, the possibility that there is far more to the Hardy family than was first thought. Andy may be guilty, but of what?
Janet Moodie is a death row appeals attorney. Her latest client Marion ‘Andy’ Hardy is certainly guilty, but does he deserve to die? Janet believes he was not given a fair trial and that his previous attorney failed to defend him properly. Janet has one year to present enough evidence to the court that Andy, though he participated in the crime, was incapable of planning and executing such well orchestrated murders. I enjoyed this side of the novel, I thought the technicality/processes were fascinating and I got an interesting insight into death row practices. I have always wondered about how it works and this novel is clear on procedure and rules surrounding death row inmates. The other side of the novel focuses on Andy’s past.
Andy was tried for the kidnapping and rape of a young woman, as well as the murder of two other women, alongside his brother Emory. Though it is clear that he is not truly capable of organising the whole crime, Andy was tried as the ringleader and received the death penalty. No one turned up to defend Andy, his own mother failed to appear for trial. Emory got a deal that if he turns on Andy, he doesn’t have to die, and he took it happily. Janet is the only person who seems to care if Andy was actually taking part or if he was just following his brother’s lead. Over the course of Two Lost Boys, Robertson delves into Andy’s history, his family, his abuse and how far his family will go to protect each other.
Janet Moodie is a tortured soul. Her husband violently committed suicide one day with no warning. Janet can’t believe he didn’t tell her about his suffering and that she didn’t see it herself. It has been 6 years and the pain is still fresh, worst still their son Gavin won’t have anything to do with Janet because of the whole incident. Janet has thrown herself into her work protecting those who may be silently suffering, but can Andy’s case help her move on from all the pain?
I thought the narrative surrounding Janet and Andy was good. I was not particularly gripped by the plot or characters though. I didn’t rush to the end to find out what was really going on. I really appreciated Robertson’s descriptive, honest and homely writing. She has opted to show a side of American law that I have rarely seen explored and I was fascinated by that. Robertson discussing the taboo subject of ‘degrees of guilt’ is a big step forward. I have always hated the assumption that if someone is found guilty then in everyone’s eyes they are wholly guilty, no matter the circumstances. The tone of the novel tells us that guilt is guilt, he deserves to die, but Robertson is an attorney herself and she shows understanding and empathy.
The element I disliked the most about this novel is definitely the atmosphere. It is so intense and bitter, there was very little to cut through it. Janet and Dave, the private investigator assigned to the case, was a pretty good dynamic that brought about some much needed humour but there wasn’t enough for me. I thought the themes that Robertson explored were important, family, grief, appeals for mercy and guilt. Robertson has certain met some intriguing people in her life and you can see it here. The characters are varied and all mesh well into the overall plot. I would have like a few more multi-dimensional characters but Janet and Andy were well written and kept me on my toes.
Overall I have given Two Lost Boys 3.5/5 stars as it is a good novel with some brilliant content and concepts. Robertson is a very talented writer and I felt that her detailed approach to this was an interesting change of pace. I am used to the intensity of Grisham or Baldacci but Robertson was unique and I appreciate her for that. I thought the plot was slightly standard which is where this novel lost its impact on me. Janet was an excellent character and Andy’s struggle is real but other than that the only outstanding features were Robertson’s writing and her legal insights.
About L. F. Robertson
L.F. Robertson is a practising defense attorney who for the last two decades has handled only death penalty appeals. Linda is the co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Unsolved Mysteries, and a contributor to the forensic handbooks How to Try a Murder and Irrefutable Evidence. She has had short stories published in the anthologies My Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: the Hidden Years and Sherlock Holmes: The American Years.