05/21/2013 11:27 am ET Updated Jul 21, 2013

Lescroart Stumbles With THE OPHELIA CUT

Book Review Jackie K Cooper
THE OPHELIA CUT by John Lescroart

Fans of John Lescroart look forward to each and every new book he writes, but when his story concerns Dismas Hardy the anticipation is even higher. When the story concerns Hardy and all of his cronies then the anticipation is through the roof. In Lescroart's latest novel THE OPHELIA CUT the focus is on Hardy and all his friends and relatives. So hail, hail the gangs all here!

In previous novels it has been established that Dismas' brother in law Moses McGuire is a recovering alcoholic. It has also been established that he loves his wife Susan and their daughter Brittany. When Brittany is raped Moses is devastated. This is a wound from which he seemingly cannot recover. In a short amount if time Moses is arrested for the murder of Brittany's attacker.

Now it is up to Dismas to save him by using all of his legal skills. But there are other reasons Moses must be saved and they go beyond pure compassion for the man. Moses is the keeper of some secrets that must not be divulged. If he does reveal them Dismas and some of his most powerful friends will be in jeopardy.

This is a plot Lescroart can spin with confidence and authority. He knows these characters like the back of his hand and he knows just how to emphasize all of the pertinent plot points. Plus when it comes to writing courtroom dialogue his skills stand far above those of all of his contemporaries.

With all of these factors to his credit THE OPHELIA CUT should be one of his best and brightest novels - but it isn't. Lescroart is sabotaged by his ending. The novel is racing at break neck speed towards some desperate occurrence that will resolve all the issues. Readers will be gasping for breath as they wonder just how the book is going to end. Lescroart has them in the palm of his hand - and then he stumbles or punts or does something completely unsuspected. Unfortunately it is also completely unsatisfactory.

THE OPHELIA CUT is four fifths great Lescroart, but the last fifth wrecks it. I am an admirer of Lescroart's talent. He has satisfied my literary expectations for many years. I have liked some of his works better than others but I have always been able to trust him to stay true to his characters. With THE OPHELIA CUT he let me down.

It has been four years since the last Dismas Hardy centered novel. I hope it will not be another four before we get another one. Lescroart needs to get his characters back on track, and to give his readers a real reason to celebrate the talent of this brilliant author.

THE OPHELIA CUT is published by Atria Books. It contains 418 pages and sells for $26.99.

Jackie K Cooper