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Life Sentence

Life Sentence

5.0 2
by David Ellis

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Line of Vision, David Ellis's debut, garnered resounding praise. "Expertly written [and] intricately plotted," hailed the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "A surprisingly fresh take on the legal thriller" (San Francisco Chronicle), it inspired words like "seductive" (BookPage), "spellbinding" (Publishers Weekly), and "stylish" (Kirkus


Line of Vision, David Ellis's debut, garnered resounding praise. "Expertly written [and] intricately plotted," hailed the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "A surprisingly fresh take on the legal thriller" (San Francisco Chronicle), it inspired words like "seductive" (BookPage), "spellbinding" (Publishers Weekly), and "stylish" (Kirkus Reviews).

In Life Sentence, Ellis brings us a second legal thriller, again evocatively set in an unnamed Chicago, in a Byzantine world of big-city politics full of payback and promise, ambition and disgrace. Jon Soliday is legal counsel to a powerful politician-also his childhood best friend-who is running for governor. The two have shared political success and undying loyalty. They also share a dark secret from the summer of 1979: a party that resulted in the death of a teenage girl. Soliday was implicated but, through his friend's political connections, escaped legal trouble.

Soliday remembers little from that night, but carries an uncertain guilt he can't shake. Now, as the players from 1979 fall prey to an unknown killer, Soliday is himself accused of murder. And as the puzzle unfolds, the people he most suspects are those he has entrusted with his defense-his ambitious defense attorney and his oldest friend.

A man's past, both what he remembers and what he fears, has never felt so crushing-and may well leave him without a future.

Author Biography: David Ellis's Line of Vision won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. He is a partner in a Chicago law firm and recently served as Deputy Counsel to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Ellis balances plot, setting, pacing, characterization and surprises in just the right measure to create a compelling high-stakes courtroom drama. He also takes time to explore the psyche of lawyers as Turow does so well, but prefers to set his sights on a different generation, usually young turks still struggling to find that balance between personal success and unimpeachable ethics. — Katy Munger
Edgar Award winner David Ellis delivers another complex and compelling novel.... Find a comfortable chair and plan to stay up late.
Publishers Weekly
Ellis follows up the success of his debut legal thriller, the Edgar Award-winning Line of Vision, with an equally intricate and intelligent murder puzzle that feels like it's 100% plot, laid out with clean precision. First-person narrator Jon Soliday, workaholic legal counsel and best friend to state senator Grant Tully, lands in the middle of three homicide mysteries (and an oblique blackmail attempt) in the first 75 pages. First, his protege Bennett Carey shoots an apparent home intruder-in the back. Then, on a mission for Senator Tully, Soliday consults with attorney Dale Garrison on an election issue. Garrison is murdered shortly after the meeting, and Soliday is fingered as the likeliest suspect. Complicating the case is a decades-old secret: in 1979, a teenage Soliday and Tully, on a drunken tear, were involved in a murder that remains unsolved to this day, and the investigation of Garrison's death threatens to blow it open. Ellis couples clear, direct prose with abundant legal detail. Soliday is a laconic and mysterious hero, adding another layer of suspense. The lack of an obligatory love interest is notable. Soliday is divorced and lives with a pair of pampered pugs; brittle ex-wife Tracy blows into the story occasionally to offer moral support but nothing more carnal. What kind of a hero is this Soliday, a successful 30-something with no apparent loved ones? And how reliable a narrator? It's all highly entertaining and full of satisfying twists. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Read nicely by Dick Hill, this political and courtroom thriller is set during a governor's election. Jon Soliday is chief counsel and friend to a powerful state senate majority leader who is running for governor; he is also an ultimate political insider pulling the strings of state government for his party's advantage. Then the tables turn on Jon. Prior to the election, he is charged with the murder of a lawyer who shares a secret regarding the other party's candidate, which could knock him out of the race. However, the trial threatens to expose another secret, one involving Jon, his friend, and the death of a woman during a party in 1979, when both men were teenagers. The story's plot and range of characters are very engaging and hold the listener's attention. Recommended for all collections.-Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ., Parkersburg Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A twisty, swiftly paced second legal thriller puts Ellis (Line of Vision, 2001, winner of an Edgar Allan Poe Award) into the ring with Scott Turow. Jon Soliday, legal counsel to state Senator Grant Tully, discovers that Langdon Trotter, Tully's opponent in the upcoming governor's race, submitted an invalid petition. The irregularity will knock Trotter out of the contest-which, polls indicate, he leads. But Tully tells Soliday that going public with the information might backfire, making the underdog look petty. Instead, Tully suggests that Soliday inform lawyer Dale Garrison about the fake petition and let Garrison use the information to blackmail Trotter into throwing the race. Soliday hates the tactic, but not as much as he hates Trotter's conservative politics. Just before he meets Garrison, however, it's Soliday who receives an anonymous blackmail note. Hand over $250,000, it threatens, or "the secret that nobody knows" will go to "the senator." Soliday sees Garrison, who likes Tully's plan-but, after the meeting, someone murders Garrison. Since Soliday was alone in the lawyer's office at the time, he's suspect numero uno. His plot revving up, Ellis cuts back to 1979. Tully and Soliday, high-school buddies, party with drugs, booze, and a woman who comes on to Soliday. After she and Soliday have heavy sex, the woman is found dead. Did Soliday do it? Is this possible murder "the secret nobody knows"? Soliday claims he blacked out and doesn't remember. Return to 2000, as emotionally coiled lawyer Bennett Carey fights for Soliday. Proceedings appear to move in Soliday's favor, but then they turn in another direction. And another. Then another, as Ellis twists matters perhaps one time toomany. Still, his case clearly shows that clues, like law and politics, can be turned to cast doubt or favor on anyone. This one's all about the puzzle (character detail, though significant, seems familiar and obligatory)-and what a tricky, surprising puzzle it is. Author tour

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.32(w) x 6.68(h) x 1.17(d)

Meet the Author

David Ellis’s previous novels include In the Company of Liars, Jury of One, Life Sentence, and Line of Vision, for which he won an Edgar Award. An attorney from Chicago, he serves as Counsel to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

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Life Sentence 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The most absolute best book I have read to date. The twist, turns and surprises! I put David Ellis up there with John Grisham. Awesome writer! I can not wait for his next book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Jon Soliday serves as legal counsel to state Senator Grant Tully, who is running for governor in which the polls indicate his employer trailing against Langdon Trotter. However, Jon uncovers that Trotter submitted an invalid petition that, if revealed, would force the front runner out of the contest. Shockingly Tully tells Jon to not go public with the information because he says he fears a public backlash. Instead he prefers Jon let lawyer Dale Garrison use the fake petition to blackmail Trotter into throwing the race. Surprisingly, Jon receives an anonymous blackmail note that demands he pays $250,000 to keep quiet about "the secret that nobody knows". He wonders if someone knows about the incident in 1979 when he had sex with a woman who died not long afterward. Still Jon goes about his job and though he detests the deceitfulness, he meets with Garrison anyway. Not long after their discussion, someone kills Garrison leaving Jon as the prime suspect as the last known person to have seen the victim and he wondering about the link back to his previous worst nightmare from two decades ago. LIFE SENTENCE is an exciting legal thriller that provides so many twists and turns that readers will read in one sitting. The story line enables the audience to observe the relativity of information based on a person¿s LINE OF VISION as reasonably intelligent individuals interpret facts to fit their need and theory of the crime. The key charcaters including Jon are developed enough to enhance the who-done-it as it is the interpretation not just the facts that will make David Ellis¿ second legal thriller a fan favorite. Harriet Klausner