Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell
William Morrow, 2007
Mystery; 431 pgs
Rating: (Good +)
First Sentence: Dan Morgan had a tattoo.
Reason for Reading: I put my name in for this book through Harper Collins First Look Program and was selected to review it.
Comments: Douglas McKenzie returns to his childhood home in Arizona to take a position in a well-respected law firm after being promised a chance to work along side the legendary defense attorney, Daniel Morgan. It soon becomes clear his presence is more likely a political move by the firm’s senior partner, Paul Butler, hoping to maintain one of the biggest and wealthiest clients the firm represents.
Paul Butler has positioned himself to reap the most financial gain and wants Dan out. As a defense attorney, Dan’s cases bring in little money, often costing the firm in the end. Dan needs a big case that will bring in the money if he is to keep a solid footing in the law firm.
When Travis Eddington, son of that most important client, Ferris Eddington, is shot to death, his wife Rita and twelve-year-old daughter Miranda witnessed walking out of the trailer after the shots were fired, and Rita holding the gun, that big case falls right in his lap. Ferris Eddington hires Dan Morgan to represent his daughter-in-law, believing full heartedly in her innocence. Doug finally gets his chance to watch the master at work, joining Dan in the defense of Rita Eddington.
It is no wonder Dan Morgan is one of the best at his job. He puts his all into his cases and adeptly maneuvers through the legal system to reach the outcome he seeks. He is sharp and on top of his game. He does, however, have a tendency to get too close to his clients, something that sometimes weighs heavily on his shoulders. The narrator, Doug McKenzie, is a young attorney just getting his feet wet. He looks up to Dan and is eager to learn all the tricks of the trade. He has a strong sense of justice and ethics, which is challenged more than once during the trial.
In his debut legal thriller, author Gordon Campbell takes readers into the heart of the courtroom and behind the scenes of the defense. With the more minor details about the inner workings of a law firm, including case assignments, billing, and office politics, Mr. Campbell creates a credible setting for his book. Although set in 1973, it is easy to forget at times as the story could very well have been written in the present time. The little historical tidbits sprinkled here and there are what set it apart.
While the whodunit becomes obvious fairly quickly, there are still enough plot twists and surprises that add to the intensity and suspense of the novel. Missing Witness is a very good start to a promising writing career. I will be keeping my eye out for future novels by Gordon Campbell.