Bear Is Broken (Leo Maxwell Series #1)

Bear Is Broken (Leo Maxwell Series #1)

3.2 111
by Lachlan Smith
     
 

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Winner of the 2014 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel

Leo Maxwell grew up in the shadow of his older brother Teddy, a successful yet reviled criminal defense attorney. As children, their father was jailed for their mother's murder, and Teddy was left to care for Leo, who eventually followed him into the legal profession.

The two are at lunch one day

Overview


Winner of the 2014 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel

Leo Maxwell grew up in the shadow of his older brother Teddy, a successful yet reviled criminal defense attorney. As children, their father was jailed for their mother's murder, and Teddy was left to care for Leo, who eventually followed him into the legal profession.

The two are at lunch one day when Teddy is shot in the head—in public, in cold blood. As Teddy lies in a coma, Leo realizes that the search for his brother’s shooter falls upon him and him alone, as his brother had enemies not only on the street but in the police department as well. As he begins to examine the life of a brother he barely knew, Leo quickly finds that the list of possible suspects is much larger than he could have imagined.

The deeper Leo digs into Teddy’s life, the more questions arise: about Teddy and his ex-wife and about the murder that tore their family apart all those years ago. And somewhere, the person who shot his brother is still on the loose, and there are many who would happily kill Leo to keep it that way.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1999, Smith’s powerful legal thriller debut, the first in a series, grabs the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go. At a San Francisco restaurant, where Leo Maxwell, a freshly minted attorney, has met older brother Teddy, a local legend as a defense lawyer, for lunch, Leo feels flattered when Teddy tells him, “I ought to let you close this one,” a reference to the closing statement Teddy is soon to deliver in the case of Ellis Bradley, who’s accused of raping his wife. Then a stranger comes up behind Leo and shoots Teddy in the head. This violent act, which puts Teddy in a coma with little chance for recovery, places Leo in the position of trying to serve Bradley’s interests by avoiding a mistrial and carrying on in his brother’s stead—and finding out the who and why of the murder attempt. Assured prose and taut plotting add up to a winner. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

"Smith doesn’t write like a novice."—New York Times Book Review

“An absorbing debut novel...Bear is Broken is an exciting read.”—New York Journal of Books

“This superior whodunit takes off at breakneck speed and leads readers on a wild ride through Frisco’s seamy criminal underbelly. It also examines the troubled relationship between brothers who, despite a history of shared tragedy, have never been able to become a family.”—Shore News Today

“Smith . . . deftly combines the thriller with the whodunit in this dark and disturbing debut. With a richly drawn protagonist in Leo and the potential for a sequel, Bear is Broken marks what promises to be the start of a riveting series.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

"The ending is as chilling as any I’ve read in a while. As with the beginning of this fine novel, it does exactly what it is supposed to do: leave the reader stunned and wanting more."—Bookreporter

“The final showdown is hair-raising. . . . Sensitive, ingenious and suspenseful. A series is promised and very welcome indeed.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Enough plot twists to please any mystery fan. A good read-alike recommendation for readers who enjoy David Hosp and S.J. Bolton."—Library Journal

"To call this book a crime novel or a thriller is to sell it short. It is far more provocative than that."—The Mystery Reader

“It is always a pleasure always a pleasure to happen upon a debut novel that reads as if the writer has toiled at his craft for ages, and that is definitely the case with Lachlan Smith’s San Francisco thriller, Bear is Broken.”—Bookpage

“Smith’s first novel offers a superior blend of amateur-detective mystery and belated-coming-of-age novel cunningly masked as a legal thriller . . . Smith combines a smart but clueless protagonist forced to drop his naïveté; a gathering of well-drawn, equally motivated suspects; and, yes, some plot-furthering sex and violence. San Francisco’s gritty streets and neighboring redwood forests add to the appeal, and the addictive characters and the quirky, sideways look at the system close the deal on a terrific debut. A perfect match with David Carnoy’s novels and Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller series.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Smith’s powerful legal thriller debut, the first in a series, grabs the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go. . . . Assured prose and taut plotting add up to a winner.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Lachlan Smith has done the impossible—written a riveting debut novel that stands with the best legal thrillers on my bookshelf. In Bear is Broken, Smith establishes a commanding presence, a gift for complex plotting, and an ability to create richly drawn characters who draw the reader into the action from the opening scene.”—Linda Fairstein, bestselling author of Night Watch

“Lachlan Smith brings the culture of the courthouse and the complicated relationship between two brothers to life in this excellent debut.” —Alafair Burke, bestselling author of Never Tell

Bear is Broken is a bold, imaginative reinvention of the rich vein of San Francisco crime writing. As in the best of Dashiell Hammett, Smith traces his finger along the spider silk that binds the city bottom to top. Heroin addicts are a step removed from Pac Heights aristocrats; Sixth Street is a neighbor of Stanford University. His richly emotional and tautly told story is invigorated by the timeless American tension between our desire for order and our love of freedom. In other words, the prosecution versus the defense. With rapt attention, readers will have to wait until the final pages to discover the villain, but on page one we meet our hero—Leo Maxwell, our trustworthy, hard-working, greenhorn lawyer who just wants to do right by the only family he’s ever known.”—Scott Hutchins, author of A Working Theory of Love

Bear is Broken is a spectacular novel, managing to be both literary and suspenseful. Particularly admirable is Lachlan Smith’s exploration of the relationship between Leo Maxwell and his tragically sidelined brother; never for a second does the twisting plot slacken. One of the best debuts I’ve read in years.”—William Bernhardt, author of the bestselling Ben Kincaid series

“Reminiscent in tone of early works by John Grisham and late ones concocted by Michael Connelly, Bear is Broken reeks with the cynical authenticity of the games cops and lawyers play. . . . A compassionate tale.”—January Magazine

“Very accomplished.”—Alabama Public Radio

"Deftly plotted. . . . A fast and engrossing read."—Midwest Book Review

Library Journal
Leo Maxwell just received his bar licence and has been shadowing his older brother Teddy, a well known San Francisco criminal lawyer. The novel opens with Teddy being shot point blank in the head as the two brothers eat lunch in Teddy's usual restaurant. In the aftermath of the shooting, Leo faces a new reality and tries to sort the truth from the lies regarding Teddy's business practices, ethics, and private life; in addition, Leo realizes that if his brother survives, Teddy will never be the same man he once was. Because of Teddy's success as a criminal defense lawyer, the police don't seem interested in investigating his shooting, and Leo is determined to find the shooter himself. VERDICT This engaging debut by a practicing Alabama attorney features well-drawn if somewhat unlikable characters and enough plot twists to please any mystery fan. A good read-alike recommendation for readers who enjoy David Hosp and S.J. Bolton. [See Prepub Alert, 8/20/12.]—Lisa Hanson O'Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Libs.
Kirkus Reviews
A newly minted attorney investigating his brother's shooting ends up learning more about the victim than he'd ever wanted to know. Hours after being sworn as a member of the California bar, Leo Maxwell is having lunch with his lawyer-brother Teddy when a stranger walks into the restaurant, fires a bullet into Teddy's face and leaves. As Teddy hovers in a coma, Detective Anderson, who has no love for the man he tells Leo was as dirty as a lawyer can be in San Francisco, plans to arrest Ricky Santorez, Teddy's most famous client, for the crime. Ricky has a grade-A alibi, since he's spent the past several years in San Quentin after killing two cops who burst into his place by mistake and caught him with a highly illegal weapon, but Anderson says that a snitch fingered him for hiring the job. Since the snitch is Lawrence Maxwell, Teddy and Leo's father, who's been locked up for a dozen years for killing his wife, Caroline, Leo takes an even more personal interest in the case. His search for other suspects leads him to the family of Keith Locke, a client Teddy was defending against the charge of murdering thrill-seeking sociologist professor Sam Marovich, whose corpse he was found trying to push through a window of the sex club where Keith worked. The suspects are familiar types--Keith's imperious father, Gerald, his fiercely protective mother, Greta, his sexually alluring sister Christine--but newcomer Smith juggles them with supernal dexterity, and the final showdown is hair-raising. Sensitive, ingenious and suspenseful. A series is promised and very welcome indeed.
BookPage
“Sensitive, ingenious, and suspenseful. A series is promised and very welcome indeed.”
Kirkus

A Bookworm's World
“A debut novel that reads as if the writer has toiled at his craft for ages. . . . You will find yourself pulling for [Leo Maxwell]—and more importantly, strongly hoping he survives for a second installment.”
BookPage

Strand Magazine
“This debut San Francisco noir is so atmospheric you can practically hear the cable cars and fog horns on the bay. . . . R.C. Bray performs skillfully.”
AudioFile

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802120793
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
02/05/2013
Series:
Leo Maxwell Series, #1
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author


Lachlan Smith was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and received an MFA from Cornell. His fiction has appeared in the Best New American Voices series. In addition to writing novels, he is an attorney practicing in the area of civil rights and employment law. He lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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Bear Is Broken 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 111 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read with lots of action, lots of interesting plot, and an intelligent look at the world.  I am waiting for the next book and another romp through the streets of the Bay Area.
blondelawdawgie More than 1 year ago
Terrific plot! A real who "dunnit!" Great for those of us who love a good mystery.  AND FOR THOSE WHO INSIST ON WRITING A COMPLETE SYNOPSIS, PLEASE STOP! WRITE YOUR OWN BOOK! A CUSTOMER REVIEW IS JUST THAT, A REVIEW, NOT THE ENTIRE PLOT!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Decent plot and character development i certainly was interested in the characters and whodunit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extremely disappointed in this book. It started or semi okay but the end was ridiculous. It just stopped like the author decided not too write anymore. What a waste of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the story was slow to develop and the characters hard to follow. Would not recommend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not like the writing style. Could not get into it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was boring. The book is 242 pages, but should have ended sooner. The books main character as another commenter mentioned was inept as a lawyer and a wimp. Will not be reading anymore of this authors books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had to read it to see what would untwist. Ok, but not a favorite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not very good. The characters were awful. The writing was amateurish. Not worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a hard book to follow.the ending did not make any sense. I do not think i will read anymore books from this writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story line though complicated, was well deveolped. This writer can only get better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this author has great potential
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not like the way it ended
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Action packed who done it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a lot fo twists & turns but not a bad read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a very good story and it took a long time to tell it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When you come behind someone's shadow how do you prove yourself? His mother was murdered, his father accused of her murder and is in prison, and now his brother the famous defense attorney has been shot and lies in the hospital fighting for his life! Leo now has to take on his brother's clients and find out who shot his brother! Leo has a lot to learn in a short period of time and found nothing comes easy. He makes mistakes along the way but this helps him to become his own man! You can't help but feel sorry for Leo and push him on to succeed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fast read, but unlikable characters and a convoluted story. Too many loose ends left dangling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good read. It was fast and engrossing. Although I still have yet to figure out how the title relates to the book.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Kiss your hand 3 times post this 3 times and look under your pillow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters were unlikeable. You feel bad for Leo, the protagonist, because everyone keeps leaving him out of the loop, treats him like a fool, and behave beyond rude towards him. Then they act like he has no right to be distrustful of them even though they give him every reason to not trust them. Ugh. I found Leo to be frustrating because he keeps making very bad choices throughout the story and doesn't stand up for himself. The positive thing about the book is that it is fast paced so I give it an extra star for that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the whole thing waiting for the big reveal. The explanation was more complicated than the plot and the "unraveled" explanation was weak.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You people should just read this novel yourselves and write your own review on this novel. I really enjoyed reading this novel very much. ShelleyMA
Anonymous More than 1 year ago