Friday, April 18, 2014

REVIEW: "Justice Perverted" by Dee Wilbur

Sandy dozed intermittently with her head on Jon's shoulder as they headed west on IH10. She thought about the changes that had just occurred in her life: her father's death, quitting her teaching job in New Orleans and packing all her belongings into the moving truck she was riding in. Her mind then raced to the changes that were to come: her marriage to Jon, moving to the town of Richmond, Texas, and the effect that the community would have on her—and she would have on the community. She could not have foreseen the arrest of Jon's partner for murder, the teenage marijuana ring or the complete perversion of justice about to take place.


Beatrice Dee Pipes and Charles Wilbur Yates, Jr. write under the pen name Dee Wilbur, a combination of their middle names. This is their second work of fiction. A Texas native, Dee Pipes grew up in a small Texas town. Her degree from Rice University is a B.A. in English. She currently runs a company that helps other companies with marketing, project management, and other tasks. She has been married to her husband Bryan for thirty years. Also a native Texan, Charles Yates, Jr., was also reared in a small Texas town. He graduated from Rice University in Houston with a B.A. and Ph.D. in Biology. He received the M.D. degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He has been married to his wife Sally for forty-five years. They have four adult sons and six grandchildren. He now tends his garden in Richmond, Texas.


I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review, which follows:

Small towns beget small town politics.  There are places in Alaska where you can hear the following phrase: "There's justice, then there's Alaska justice."  Several things happened in the rural Alaskan town where I grew up where locals handled justice before matters were brought to the authorities.  Why am I going into this?  Well, Alaska and Texas kind of have a pissing contest friendly rivalry.  Which is bigger/better?  Depends on the day.  :P  This book would make it appear that the two places do have one thing in common - small towns and their workings.  

Dee Wilbur is (are?) at it again, crafting a superb story while revealing the soft underbelly of living in a small town - small town politics.  

A small town lawyer has finally married the woman of his dreams and has brought her home to Richmond, Texas.  Shorty thereafter, there are some mighty "interesting" happenings in this fine town of his, and he finds himself embroiled in a situation where things are not as they seem, lies are told, drugs run rampant, and true friends may be in questionable status with the law.  A man winds up dead.  Then another man.  Meanwhile Jon, the aforementioned lawyer, tries his hand at criminal defense despite that not being his general area of law, and his wife - Sandy - tries to fit into a town where everyone knows everyone and has for centuries.  What could possibly go wrong?

Justice Perverted is a wonderful sequel to A Jealous God.  It has a riveting plot, a court case full of gut wrenching ups and downs, likable characters, and the ability to stand alone on its own two feet without its prequel.  

Let's just say that I stayed a little glued to this book 

On an ascending scale of 1 to 5, I give this book a 3.

The Good
In college I only ever found one or two people who came from a town smaller than the one where I was reared.  According to the 2000 census, my little town boasted just over 400 people (I'm sure it has grown a little since then, but I'm also sure that number is a little low since I know some of the town folks who greeted the census takers with a gun and stern reminders of 'NO TRESSPASSING' signs in front of their house).  

I know small towns and their politics.  I also know what it is like to move into a small town where everyone knows everyone and you are the odd one out, at least for awhile (my spouse and I just moved to such a town).  

Justice Perverted is something that made me laugh at how very real-to-life it is.  This, unfortunately, is a story I could actually see playing out in any small town across...the planet.  

Jon Miller is a lawyer in the relatively small town of Richmond, Texas.  Much to the chagrin of the available ladies in town, this heart-stopping stud has just returned from a trip with a new bride in tow.  Sandy is a vivacious young lady who has had Jon's heart for quite awhile and is definitely up to the task of fitting into a place where everyone knows everyone already....or is she?  When someone winds up actually dead at a reenactment of an old shoot out, the colors of this little town show through as the gossip gears grind, someone is jailed, and justice may be swayed by a little bit of the "good ol' boys club".  Or is it?  And what is with all of these pesky teenagers suddenly getting into trouble?

Well, don't look at me for the answer to those questions - go read this book!

Oh, don't be nervous that it is team-written by two individuals.  As in the first book in this series, you can't tell that two different brains are at work here.  In that regard it is seamless - I cannot tell who wrote what chapter/page/word  :P

What I can tell is that the masterminds behind Dee Wilbur put a lot of time and effort into this supremely riveting plot.  Seriously, I stayed glued to the book for the couple of days it took me to read (and it wouldn't have even taken me that long to read if my toddler took longer naps).  Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen next, something would happen that surprised me.  My brows furrowed more than once as I tried to predict what was even going to happen on the very next page.  This is not to say that it is so full of surprises that it is just plain annoying.  It is to say that it is full of enough surprises to keep it interesting.  

Anyways, let's take a look at characters.  I'm not going to list them all out here, but let's just say it is easy to love the ones you are supposed to love and to not like the ones that you are supposed to not like.  Then there are all those pesky people in the middle who do bad and good things so much that you aren't sure how to feel about them....but hey, that's life.  The point here is that the characters are real.  I could have lunch with Sandy and/or Jon.  And (*gasp* I just started a sentence with and!) I am so glad that Dee Wilbur choose to continue their story with Jon...I really liked him in the first book and I really like him here. 

This reminds me - this is a book in a series.  HOWEVER, it can stand delightfully on its own two feet without one absolutely having to read the first book.  Now, I highly recommend reading the first book because it is fantabulous, but this book can survive by itself.  In a series that revolves around court cases, that is bonus.  

The Bugly (bad/ugly)
You may have noticed that though I'm raving about the content of the book, I've only given it a 3 out of 5.  There are 2 major reasons for this - dialog and editing.  

Dialog - as in the first book, there are not enough of the "he said this" and "she said that" indicators to help readers figure out who the heck is talking.  I went back many times to the start of a scene or conversation to try and figure out who said what (that's kind of important), and it drove me crazy!  I couldn't rely on punctuation to help me figure out what was going on, because....

Editing - this book needs to go through a professional editor if it  hasn't already (and if it has, it needs to go through a different one).  Punctuation and indenting, especially within a dialog, are not consistent.  My main gripe is that quotation marks are in mostly the right places, but enough of the wrong places to completely confuse who the heck is saying what and when people are talking.  

The reason I knocked two points off my score for this book for these gripes (typically I'd only take off 1 for these) is that they were so freaking distracting that I had to do far too much freaking work as a reader.  I should not have to work that hard to keep track of conversations, and punctuation needs to be consistent throughout an entire work.  Since I found these kinds of errors on many pages instead of just a few, I took off 2 points.  

Also, in my humble opinion, too much of the book itself is dialog.  This is merely me quibbling about a stylistic choice that I'd never make, but I felt that learning 95% of the content from the 95% dialog that made up the books text was just a bit too much.  

That all being said, the story itself is superb and this is a good book!  I will be happy to read more...

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