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Leo Maxwell is no ordinary attorney. He spends as much time tracking corrupt politicians and gangland leaders across the Bay Area to piece together the facts of a crime as he does crafting courtroom rhetoric. But Leo has never quite recovered from discovering his mother’s murdered corpse as a child.
In Wolf’s Revenge , the fifth novel in Lachlan Smith’s critically acclaimed series, attorney-detective Leo Maxwell seeks an exit strategy from his family’s deepening entanglement with a ruthless prison-based gang. Caught between the sadistic criminal Bo Wilder and the FBI, Leo charts his own path in defending a young woman who was manipulated into murdering an Aryan Brotherhood member in broad daylight. When the consequences of the case strike heartbreakingly close to home, long-held secrets are revealed, transforming Leo’s perspective on the aftermath of the tragedy that derailed his childhood and fractured his family over two decades ago. Leo comes to realize that there’s no such thing as fair play in the battle against a prison gang that’s already being punished to the full extent of the law. The question then becomes who will get revenge firstthe Maxwells or the gang leader who pursues them?
About the Author
Lachlan Smith was a Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford and received an MFA from Cornell. He has written four previous books in the Leo Maxwell Mystery series: Bear Is Broken , which won the 2014 Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel, Lion Plays Rough , Fox Is Framed , and Panther's Prey. Smith's fiction has also 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 Alabama.
Read an Excerpt
One thought simultaneously heartened and chilled me. If the man I’d noticed earlier had taken my niece, this likely was no random abduction. Far more probable was that Carly had been targeted by a man named Bo Wilder. If Wilder had ordered this, it was to send a message, either to my brother Teddy or to me. Wilder had no reason to hurt Carly.
Not unless one of us had given him one.
Whenever I passed an usher or security guard I shouted my alarm about a lost girl. I’d run a near-complete circle of the stadium before my phone vibrated. It was Teddy. “We found her,” he said. “A guy brought her back.”
I slowed to a walk, but only for a moment. Then I began to jog again. I arrived at our section and slowed, trying to look casual as I came down the stairs, my hard breathing reminding me how long it’d been since I’d ridden my bike. The man with the prison muscles was there. Carly stood looking down at a little green-shirted mascot doll he must have bought for her. I came down the steps behind them and grabbed the guy’s arm.
He turned, his smile betraying no sign of the pressure I was exerting just above his massive triceps, his arm as thick around as the leg of a sedentary man, his head shaved bald. I pulled out my cell phone and suggested that Carly pose for a picture with the man.
His expression didn’t fade as I snapped a series of shots. His hand remained on Carly’s shoulder, but his eyes never left my face.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was my review as it appeared in Mystery Scene magazine: In author Lachlan Smith’s fifth Leo Maxwell legal thriller, the metaphorical noose around Maxwell’s family grows ever tighter. The entire family is under the thumb of the Aryan Brotherhood, a situation that grows more untenable when Leo’s young niece is kidnapped (then returned) at a baseball game in a show of intimidation—a lesson to show Leo’s family can be gotten to at any time. You see, the Brotherhood sends Leo their criminal cases, and the latest one involves the killing of one of their members. But the logic of the case doesn’t seem to add up. The woman charged with the killing is black, so why is the Aryan Brotherhood paying for her defense? Why won’t his client tell anyone her real name? Why is the FBI involved in the case, yet doing nothing to help? The search for answers leads him into more conflict with those holding his leash. When a further tragedy occurs, it spurs Leo into looking for an endgame to get out from under those who seek to control him and his family. But when neither your criminal employers nor law enforcement can be trusted, how do you protect anyone from harm? The book’s pacing moves along at a fast clip, with short time jumps that account for how fast the story gets to the criminal trial. While the trial feels more like a set piece designed to further the resolution to Maxwell’s personal issues, the humdrum of basic procedural as it moves to the fireworks of revelatory testimony is detailed rather well. There aren’t a whole lot of innocents in Wolf’s Revenge, which does make it hard to root for any one particular character or outcome, but readers will find themselves inexorably drawn toward the book’s explosive conclusion. Readers looking for a clear-cut resolution to the story’s narrative will find that, despite some truths being exposed, there are no easy answers here. But this particular storytelling decision helps give the book that much more of a suspenseful draw.
I received a free electronic copy of this mystery from Netgalley, Lachlan Smith, and Grove Atlantic - Mysterious Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. This is an interesting mystery, with the Aryan Brotherhood playing an important roll both inside prison and out. We have two generations of lawyers in the San Francisco Bay area, Generation two unable to separate themselves from the Brotherhood and decisions and commitments made years ago by their father. Our protagonists are all damaged in some way and attempting to work and raise generation three without the constant worry of AB retribution as they try to go straight. This is not a make-happy novel, but it is one I am glad to have read.