“Lachlan Smith does a masterful turn in Fox Is Framed. A sharp-edged legal thriller with the deep emotional undertones of family drama and tragedy.”—Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot
Mystery Scene reviewed Fox Is Framed:
“The third installment in the series featuring attorney Leo Maxwell reveals much of Leo’s backstory. It opens with ten-year-old Leo’s memory of discovering his mother’s dead body. Unlike his brother Teddy, Leo always thought his father Lawrence guilty of her murder—and indeed, his father has been in prison for it for over two decades. But his father’s case is under review for prosecutorial misconduct and it seems as though he’ll be released. Leo finds himself going, for the first time, for a jailhouse visit.
“In the hands of a lesser writer, there would be a gooey father and son reunion, a realization on the son’s part that his father was never guilty, and all would be forgiven as the reunited family walked out of prison into the happy sunshine. That’s not what happens here. This book never took me where I expected it would. The story is smart, complex, and original. It is the first Leo Maxwell book I have read and the storytelling proved to be so clear and concise I was never at a loss as to who was who or just what was going on.
“Leo learns that Lawrence has a fiancée named Dot, and that he wants Leo to tell her of his pending release. Leo reluctantly goes to meet Dot, a motorcycle-riding nurse who is not at all what Leo expected. When his father does get out, he heads to Teddy’s with Leo and Dot, where a granddaughter he’s never met awaits him. Teddy also works as a lawyer, but not in the courtroom since a recent head injury has reoriented him as a work-from-home family man. Lawrence is delighted with his granddaughter and the family reunion really got me emotionally hooked into the story.
“This is truly a legal thriller, much of it set inside a courtroom, told by someone who knows the way things work there. It’s left to the reader to interpret what’s happening, and it is almost like being a member of the jury yourself. All the while, Smith keeps the reader on edge. You hope Lawrence is innocent, but you are never really sure. And when a new crime turns up that incriminates him once again, you won’t know what to think. Smith lets you make up your own minds as he relentlessly unfurls his story, one in which every character has a little bit of heartbreak to share. The characters got me hooked, the legal story got me to stay, and the originality of the telling stuck with me when I was finished.”
“Lachlan Smith really has something going on here, consisting of a plot that has held up well over the course of three books and has been sustained by interesting, if occasionally quirky, characters.”
“Convinced for most of his life that his father, Lawrence, murdered his mother, San Francisco attorney Leo Maxwell finds it difficult to accept the idea that Lawrence might be innocent, let alone that he might get out of prison after more than 20 years. In Smith’s engaging third courtroom drama, Leo and his fellow attorney brother, Teddy, still on the mend after being shot in the head during the tumultuous events of 2013’s Bear Is Broken, work together to exonerate their father, who is grudgingly granted a new trial by the state. Things seem to be going their way, particularly since many of the prosecution’s original witnesses—and the underhanded prosecutor himself—are dead, and no physical evidence remains for DNA testing. Then a newly discovered jailhouse snitch winds up dead. With Lawrence the prime suspect, Leo once again is questioning his father’s innocence and digging into a case with consequences more dangerous and far-reaching than he ever imagined. VERDICT Smith elegantly blends courtroom suspense and family misfortune without ever slipping into melodrama; the line Maxwell family members walk between innocence and guilt becomes more blurred with every step and turn of the page.”
“Smith skillfully blends taut courtroom drama with investigative suspense as Leo Maxwell (Lion Plays Rough, 2014) finally confronts the haunting tragedy of his mother’s murder … the mystery is well played. Smith’s greatest success, however, is in his gripping telling of the story of Leo’s, Teddy’s, and Lawrence’s different struggles to find their own resolution to the tragedy that has haunted their lives.”
“The complex family dynamics that Smith explored in his earlier books only become more intriguing in his superlative third Leo Maxwell mystery (after 2014’s Lion Plays Rough). In 1983, when he was 10 years old, Leo found his mother’s battered corpse in their San Francisco home. His father, Lawrence, was convicted of her murder and has been behind bars for two decades. Leo’s older brother, Teddy, despite being impaired by a bullet to the brain, has succeeded in getting the conviction reversed for prosecutorial misconduct. The prosecutor intends to retry Lawrence, bolstering the old case with a newly discovered motive for the murder—jealousy—and a supposed confession Lawrence made to an ex-con he befriended in jail. As Leo tries to connect with the father he never really knew and assist in Lawrence’s defense against a new murder charge, he struggles with doubts about his father’s innocence. Smith is masterly in creating realistic courtroom scenes, including the subtleties of witness examination, and, even more impressively, enhances the trial with the human drama of the Smith family.”
“[S]ome of the sharpest courtroom cut-and-thrust since Presumed Innocent (1986)”
Bookreporter review of Lion Plays Rough:
“No one is presently writing a series quite like this one, which moves into unexpected places in unpredictable ways. Smith is creating and following his own rules in LION PLAYS ROUGH, and the results are impressive.”
Don Noble reviewed my book on APR and in the Tuscaloosa News.
“…Smith’s tight second Leo Maxwell mystery (after 2013’s Bear Is Broken) … is full of intelligent plot twists and should appeal to any fan of good writing.” (Link).