Bear is Brokenby Lachlan Smith
Leo Maxwell grew up in the shadow of his older brother, Teddy, a successful yet reviled criminal defense attorney who racked up enemies as quickly as he racked up acquittals. As children, their father was jailed for the murder of their mother, and Teddy was left to care for Leo who tried to emulate his older brother, even following him into the legal… See more details below
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Leo Maxwell grew up in the shadow of his older brother, Teddy, a successful yet reviled criminal defense attorney who racked up enemies as quickly as he racked up acquittals. As children, their father was jailed for the murder of their mother, and Teddy was left to care for Leo who tried to emulate his older brother, even following him into the legal profession.
The two are at lunch one day when Teddy, supposed to give the closing argument of his current trial that afternoon, is shot: in public, in cold blood, the shooter escaping without Leo being able to identify him. As Teddy lies in a coma, Leo comes to the conclusion that the search for his brother’s shooter falls upon him and him alone, as his brother’s enemies were not merely the scum on the street but embedded within the police department as well. As he begins to examine the life of a brother he realizes he barely knew, Leo quickly realizes 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: questions about Teddy and his ex-wife, questions about the history of the Maxwell family, even questions 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 in order to keep it that way.
"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 impossiblewritten 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 heroLeo 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
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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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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