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Semiautomatic Paperback – May 25, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Giobberti makes a return appearance in this second novel by Reuland (Hollowpoint), in which a ghetto murder is spun into a complex, shadowy courtroom showdown. As the novel begins, Giobberti is living out a deadeningly quiet bureaucratic exile in the sleepy appeals office of the Brooklyn DA. His career hit a brick wall after the events of the earlier novel: the death of his daughter, his subsequent estrangement from his wife and the personal collapse that led to a botched homicide prosecution. So Gio is confused, suspicious and guardedly grateful when a former underling appears in his office and makes him an offer he can't refuse: Giobberti can return to the Homicide office if he'll prosecute the accused murderer of a Brooklyn bodega owner. After that, moral and narrative ambiguity take over as Giobberti tries to sort out why the DA wants him on this case. He knows something's wrong, but no one's revealing anything, not even Laurel Ashfield, the straitlaced, by-the-book junior DA who had the case before it was dropped in Giobberti's lap. Reuland avoids by-the-numbers storytelling and die-cut morality, tracing a tortuous path through the Brooklyn underworld and tossing off impolitic remarks with a studied carelessness ("Brooklyn killers do not deserve long stories. Brooklyn killers have no imagination. Brooklyn killers are the dumbest killers in the world"). There's a redemption story thinly camouflaged under the procedural tangle, giving this noirish legal thriller grace and gravitas.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Brooklyn prosecutor Andrew Giobberti has been exiled to the Appeals Bureau for so long he's almost forgotten that putting away murderers is in his DNA. Almost. When he's pulled out of purgatory to rescue a politically sensitive homicide trial prepped by a green, painfully ethical prosecutor, Giobberti's soon ready for his courtroom comeback. But even as he shows his unwilling partner the ropes they'll use to encircle the defendant's neck, disturbing holes start appearing in the case. Will Giobberti bend the truth to serve justice, or do the right thing for the wrong outcome? Reuland, himself a veteran of the Brooklyn DA's Homicide Bureau, vividly brings to life this gritty morality tale and draws us deep inside the protagonist's troubled psyche. Unfortunately, overheated dialogue and confrontations undermine Giobberti's crackling ruminations until it sometimes feels as though the narrative channels are flipping between a soap opera and an excellent Law & Order episode. Luckily, the compelling force of Giobberti's tortured personality and Reuland's consistently delightful turns of phrase save this follow-up to Hollowpoint (2001) from sinking too deeply into melodrama. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 146119816X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461198161
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,848,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeff VINE VOICE on November 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked Hollowpoint, but I really like the follow-on, Semiautomatic. If you read one, you must start with the debut novel, as there is a tremendous amount of back story that Reuland does not repeat in sufficient detail in this book.

After Hollowpoint, we saw a down on his luck assistant DA do his best to insert the right outcome into a case he was handling for the prosecutor's office. The author's prior work as a DA there lent a lot of charm to the first book and all of that continues here. As with the first book, the protagonist is handled a 'simple' case that turns out to be anything but. He's pared with a partner who has no experience in prosecuting murder cases, and they develop a very tentative and complex relationship while they try to move forward with the case. As you might expect, there are bigger forces and a larger agenda here at work. Watching them figure this out and what they're prepared to do about it is a real treat.

I wrote in my review of Hollowpoint that the sense of place for Brooklyn was strong. It's even stronger here. You can practically smell the steam of the summer shower coming off of the still hot pavements.

Reuland is an author to keep an eye on. I for one will be following him.

Recommended highly.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up this short crime novel 'cause I was in a rush and it had a nice blurb on the cover from George Pelecanos (one of my favorite writers). Well, haste definitely made waste for me, and I'm sad to report that Pelecanos gave me a bum steer. This story about a murder trial in Brooklyn is an utterly tepid and uninteresting piece of work. Part of the problem is that a lot of the backstory to the protagonist Giobberti, a 40-year-old homicide prosecutor for the District Attorney's office, resides in Reuland's debut, Hollowpoint. Apparently in that book Giobberti screwed up so badly that he was exiled in disgrace to the backwater of the Appeals Bureau. He also either then or subsequently lost his daughter in a traffic accident and his wife walked out on him. Now, some 18 months later, he is unexpectedly told to take over a routine case involving a teenager who killed a bodega owner in a stickup.

Already on the case is inexperienced junior prosecutor Laurel Ashfield, who's never tried a homicide. Most of the book revolves around Giobberti and her getting a feel for each other and the case. Almost immediately, Giobberti (and the reader) realizes there's something not quite right about the case, and it takes an awfully long time for the specifics to be revealed. Once revealed, the specifics end up being woefully uninteresting, revolving around the completely unshocking reality of cops and DAs playing fast and loose with the truth in order to put away bad guys in order to score political points. The theme of corrupt a corrupt legal system and bent cops has been exhaustively explored in film and fiction for over a century, and Reuland brings nothing new to the table here.
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Format: Hardcover
I agree both with the people who liked this novel and with those who didn't. The level of writing is well above average, as is knowledge of the subject. Both are so welcome after a J. D. Robb "In Death" novel which is utterly mediocre in comparison.

Except... Mr. Reuland absolutely refuses to use a contraction (e.g. "won't" or "can't") so ALL the dialog (uneducated criminals included) is unbearably stilted. "She will not tell me, and I cannot insist, because we had not...". Nobody talks or thinks like this. How an otherwise perceptive writer could be so obtuse or so self-indulgent - and his editor permit it - is beyond me. It's like avoiding every word with the letter 'e'. Even in the excellent reading by Jason Collins this soon becomes excruciating. I soon began listening as much for an exception to this as to the relatively modest plot. Result: one contraction noted in the entire book.

Also, as mentioned by another reviewer, conversations between the principals are often unrealistically fragmented. People are constantly breaking off just when they're about to explain something important. This authorial trick creates many misunderstandings to advance the plot, but after a few of these the reader is thinking "just spit it out, for heavens sake!".

Mr. Reuland is a talented author and could easily do without the idiosyncrasies I'm criticising. I hope he'll iron these out of his future books. But, what author ever pays attention to the lay reader's opinion?
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Format: Hardcover
Rob Reuland's Semiautomatic is the follow-up to his excellent 2000 debut Hollowpoint. The author has brought back hard-bitten Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Andrew Giobberti for another go-around on the borough's mean streets and in its grim halls of justice.
A bodega owner has been murdered in what seems to be an open-and-shut case. As Gio digs deeper, though, he senses that something is rotten underneath the surface. There's a reason he was assigned to this murder and, once he learns it, his outrage leads him to take on his corrupt bosses.
There are times when Semiautomatic suffers from an excess of personality, with machinegun sentences and clipped dialogue assaulting readers so fast they hardly have a chance to catch their breath. That is also part of the book's charm, though, as Reuland breaks out of the typical urban crime mold with his fresh, compelling protagonist and idiosyncratic style.
Semiautomatic is recommended to anyone who is tired of the usual, run-of-the-mill legal thriller and wants to read something that tells it a little more like it really is.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Chicago Sun-Times
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