Joe Hartlaub's review of Panther's Prey: "PANTHER’S PREY is the fourth book starring Smith’s ill-beset but steadfast San Francisco attorney and is by far the best installment in the series, even surpassing BEAR IS BROKEN, the award-winning opening volume. It is a bit darker yet more laser-focused than Smith’s previous work,.."
Killer Nashville Review of the Day: "The novel is a thickly layered, old-fashioned gumshoe mystery in which everyone has a motive for murder and a secret to be revealed that could help Maxwell solve his most personal case yet ... Like a work by Queen, it’s a riveting mystery fraught with peril for our hero, and twists at every turn. The narrative moves at a swift pace, with plenty of action thrown in to keep the pages turning. An attorney himself, Smith uses his expertise in the courtroom to craft a believable and twist-filled plot: the thoughtful execution of clues and Maxwell’s persistence to learn the truth that will keep you guessing."
The fourth Leo Maxwell legal thriller starts on a high note: Maxwell and his partner at the San Francisco public defender's office, Jordan Walker, secure an acquittal for an accused rapist, Randall Rodriguez, a man whose history of confessing to crimes he didn't commit convinced Leo and Jordan that he was innocent. Soon after, though, Jordan is raped and murdered, and Rodriguez confesses to the crime. Leo believes he's innocent again, but his bosses order him not to assist in the man's defense. Leo takes a leave of absence, vowing to pursue the investigation on his own time; he has his own theory about Jordan's murder, but can he prove it? Or will Leo himself wind up fingered for the crime? Gripping, dramatically written, and very suspenseful, this novel will have strong appeal for legal-thriller fans, especially followers of John Lescroart's Dismas Hardy series. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
"Fans of Scott Turow will relish Smith’s outstanding fourth Russian nesting doll of a whodunit featuring San Francisco lawyer Leo Maxwell (after 2015’s Fox Is Framed). Leo, who has left private practice to take a job in the public defender’s office, is representing Randall Rodriguez, who “has spent his adult life on the street, in mental hospitals, or in jail.” He also has a record of confessing to crimes he didn’t commit. Despite Rodriguez’s confession of rape in the present case, Leo and his hardworking cocounsel, Jordan Walker, succeed in getting the jury to acquit after providing expert testimony as to why he would admit to something he didn’t do. Leo and Jordan sleep together after the triumph, but the relationship proves short-lived. One night in bed, Jordan receives a text message and kicks Leo out. Three days later, he finds her battered corpse in her apartment, with evidence implicating Rodriguez. The plotting is impeccable, and Smith adds even more layers to his complex lead, while creating a San Francisco as morally ambiguous as Turow’s Kindle County."
“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.”