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Doubt (Caroline Auden) Paperback – August 1, 2016
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About the Author
For fifteen years, C.E. Tobisman has been an appellate attorney, handling cases in the California courts of appeal and Supreme Court. After graduating from UC Berkeley and attending law school there, she moved to Los Angeles, where she now lives with her wife and their three children. Doubt is the first novel in her new series featuring Caroline Auden. Tobisman is also the author of Inside the Loop, published by Emet Comics. Find her on Twitter at @cetobisman, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cetobisman, and at www.cetobisman.com.
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while I don't want to drop any spoilers, here is an overview of "Doubt":
PLOT -- Excellently contrived, the plot weaves in and out of unexpected places, keeping the reader engaged throughout. The few times I thought I had encountered a FATAL FLAW in the story, Ms. Tobisman would plug the hole and keep my belief at a high level. Even with the twists and turns, as a reader I always felt the action was credible.
CHARACTERS -- The book has a believable main character (Caroline) with plenty of flaws and personal angst. Her battles with self-doubt and the past never descends into whininess; rather, her struggles continue to keep her human as she moves from one challenge to the next. The secondary characters play their parts, fleshed out enough to enable plausible conversations and an even flow to the action.
THE WRITING -- No embarrassing spelling errors, horrible grammar mistakes, or anything to mar this book. Ms. Tobisman presents interesting descriptions and does not allow the writing to get in the way of the story. I was a bit leery at first when there were a few legal terms not explained, but this was not an issue throughout the book. While the initial feeling might be to compare Ms. Tobisman to John Grisham, I may agree that the professionalism of her writing is high, but her breezy tone sets her apart with a voice all her own.
IN CASE YOU WANTED TO KNOW -- Sex scenes are alluded to, but not described. The one incident is a minor part of the story and I commend the author for treating it as such and not embellishing all the details. While there is an occasional f-bomb or crude language, the usage is sparse and not gratuitous. Excessive violence is not an issue, and the author's focus is definitely on using suspense to drive the reader to the next page.
OVERALL -- A fast, enjoyable read. The author does not employ "surprise" twists that come out of nowhere in order to keep the reader in the dark; rather, she plants subtle clues that most of us are going to miss and then allows them to sprout when we least expect them. I think this is one of her strengths, and also one of the reasons I feel comfortable awarding the book all the stars.
This is the first novel featuring protagonist Caroline Auden. After a brief look at the Kindle First choices, I selected this one for a couple of reasons. One, I enjoy most of the legal novels by John Grisham. Two, and perhaps the biggest reason, I have a niece in LA whom I assisted (ever so slightly) in her passion to become a paralegal for a law firm. I think she was spurred by Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts.
Bearing in mind that a new lawyer turned author might pale in comparison to Grisham, I also feel that the latter can use some competition from the next generation, of which C E Tobisman certainly appears to be, by her choice to use a cyber hacker as the backdrop of her heroine. So, how did the author do?
She did well enough to keep me turning the pages and to have me looking for more. I can see a rivalry on the horizon between Grisham and Tobisman. Wonder if they might someday collaborate?
Length: Print, 346 pages. It also is going to be released as an MP3 CD, but the duration is not stated. I would hazard a guess that it will be about nine hours long. I hope it also will be released through Audible, but only time will tell.
Q - Target Audience/Genre and is it marketed as Nonfiction or Fiction:
A – Fans of Grisham and other Suspense-Thrillers based on law.
Q - How was this book obtained?
A – Purchased as my Prime Unlimited Kindle First selection.
Q – If this is fiction, is it a plot-driven or a character-driven story?
A – Plot-driven but with an interesting, quirky hip young woman as the protagonist.
Q - Is this a book that I can read without having to read others first?
A – Yes, it is the first in a planned series starring Caroline Auden.
Q – If this is a recurring character or a series, does it have a cliffhanger ending?
A –I am grateful to report there is no cliffhanger ending.
Q - Are there a lot of typos/misspellings, grammatical errors or other editing failures?
A – No.
Q - Is this a fast, easy read or is it more of a leisure read?
A – Fast-paced book to curl up on the couch to read, but written in a manner and pace that permits easily reading during coffee breaks and lunches or while carpooling.
Q - What sort of language does this writer use to amplify the points made?
A – Adult English. About a dozen f-bombs and dam@s but only a light sprinking of other foul language.
Q – What age group is this suitable for?
A – Young Adult and up. If it were a movie it would probably be rated PG-13.
Q - Is there sex, and is it graphic?
A – While there is a touch of romance, it is not graphic and is nothing to be particularly concerned about.
Q – Is there violence and is the violence graphic?
A – The violent encounter is tame by any standard.
Q - My biggest pleasure or disappointment?
A – As an old-timer, I’m a bit old-fashioned and don’t mind when a story builds through some superfluous storyline to conceal the clues and what not. This book, though, is more in line with modern advice and wastes less time in doing so. It is as if the author were a devotee of the late Elmore Leonard in terms of his penchant to cut out the parts people skip over. This is not a criticism, however, for I really did enjoy this story. Enough so that I am rating it five stars.
I do wish, however, there had been a little more effort into the action scenes and the romance, for I love to form a graphic picture in my head --- not erotica, but just a picture.
To give a feel for the editing, and the style and flow of this work, I am posting a brief excerpt below.
Everyone knew the article had once been on Franklin’s computer. The question was: Where did it go? With quick keystrokes, she began probing the possibilities.
“What are you doing?” Yvonne’s voice floated from over Caroline’s left shoulder.
Caroline startled at the sound. She’d forgotten that Yvonne was there.
“When you delete something, it isn’t really gone,” Caroline explained. “It just goes to the unallocated space on the hard drive.”
Yvonne fell silent.
Caroline was glad the widow hadn’t pried into how she had learned to search places most people wouldn’t— or couldn’t— touch. Or why she was so good at it.
Using the GREP utility, Caroline scanned the unallocated space for bits containing three words: SuperSoy, kidney, and injury. So long as those words appeared somewhere on the bits of the hard drive, she’d find them.
When the utility finished running, Caroline sat back, her brow wrinkling. “There’s nothing in Franklin’s unallocated space.” Not only had GREP failed to retrieve anything, but all of the bits were zeroed out.
Eyeing the overwritten bits, Caroline shuddered. No one had yet been able to say for certain that Dr. Heller had been murdered. And yet here, in the zeroed-out bits, was proof that someone had destroyed data on the dead scientist’s computer. It was an ominous sign.
“What’s wrong?” Yvonne asked.
“Someone ran a tool to overwrite the unallocated space. They were very thorough. Whatever was once on this computer is now gone.”
“Did someone hack it?” Yvonne asked.
“Maybe,” Caroline said, moving quickly to check the computer’s event logs. Hackers avoided leaving tracks. They wiped event logs, router logs, and IDS logs to remove all records of remote connections. Empty event logs would bolster the conclusion that someone had accessed Dr. Heller’s computer remotely.
But to Caroline’s surprise, none of the logs on Franklin’s computer had been cleared. She stared at the intact logs in dismay. If the computer hadn’t been hacked…
Tobisman, C. E.. Doubt (Caroline Auden) (p. 112-113). Thomas & Mercer. Kindle Edition.
Excellent legal thriller that will have John Grisham looking back over his shoulder as this writer hones her character and gains skill in her craft.
Five stars out of five.
Comments regarding your opinion of this book or of my review, whether favorable or unfavorable, are always welcome. If you buy the book based on my review and become disappointed, especially, I do want to know that and I want to understand how I can improve as a book reviewer. Just please be polite.
It's somewhat inevitable that reviewers will compare a new "legal thriller" to John Grisham's legal books. In this case, the tilt is strongly in favor of Grisham.
If you enjoy the psychological emphasis, you might like this one.