Bear is Broken

Bear is Broken

3.2 106
by Lachlan Smith
     
 

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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… See more details below

Overview


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.

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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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802193698
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
02/05/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
18,276
File size:
2 MB

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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