Marshall’s Law by Ben Sanders – 2016

Marshall marshalls-lawGrade has been laying low in witness protection after quite spectacularly not doing so in American Blood, the previous novel in the Marshall Grade series. But when he finds out U.S. Marshal Lucas Cohen, his witness protection contact, was kidnapped by someone trying to find him, he decides he’s going to be the one doing the finding.  And as we are now coming to expect the ensuing story is revealed by a swirl of characters.  And as with American Blood the ethics of the situation gets wonderfully blurry.  The ‘baddies’ have complex lives and often do bad things for good reasons, and the ‘goodies’? – well they are few and far between, Cohen is the closest thing to a good guy but the good deeds are few, and the one truly good Samaritan turn in this story is taken by one of the scariest of the criminal groups.  Marshall’s Law tells us more about Marshall’s difficult past; possibly the roots of his ongoing OCD tendencies – trying to keep order in a messy world.  And we meet a hapless ex-con with a dangerous brother and a feisty wife, a drug dealer who colours everything in his life the white of his product, a man with a yappy dog who has got into serious debt, and a crook who feels bad at using his sick mother’s Honda for illegal purposes so punishes himself by leaving the radio on her gospel channel as penance: “Yeah, I’ve done some bad shit, but at least I left the radio on your station.”  We also have characters from American Blood: Cohen the U.S. Marshal and of course somewhere is the Asaro family – the target of Marshall’s blown undercover job that landed him in WITSEC.  The plot is complex and clever and unwinds slowly through to the explosive ending.  And what is wonderful about Marshall’s Law is that it is an action-packed thriller that you want to read like a piece of literary fiction; savouring the writing as you go.  The scenes are described in exquisite detail and the noir-ish tone hits just right. I wanted to know how all the characters and threads of the story fitted together, but at the same time didn’t want the book to end.  Roll on the next installment!

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