four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
24-Sept-Oct-2006
By: 
John Hart
user_rating: 
0

A-The King of LiesNorth Carolina criminal defense attorney Jackson Workman "Work" Pickens is struggling to reconcile his ghosts: his loveless, gold-digger wife; his sister’s emotional problems; an unhappy lover; his mother’s death; and his wealthy, abusive father’s disappearance. When his father’s corpse is found 18 months later, Work, heir to $15 million, looks for clues to the murder. As he starts to uncover hidden truths, protect his sister, and track down the killer he feels sure is near, Work becomes the murder’s prime suspect.
St. Martin’s Minotaur. 320 pages. $22.95. ISBN: 031234161X

Charlotte Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"Whether it’s a row of gutted house trailers or the evil smiles at the country club, Hart’s eye seems drawn to the darkest corners of human behavior. … Hart is pretty good at muddying a trail himself, and before it’s over he has left clues that could point to just about anyone in the book." Salem Macknee

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Hart taps into his legal background to speckle the book with insider-type facts about the way lawyers and police do their jobs and the grim reality of prison life, adding to the believability of the story." Mia Geiger

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The King of Lies crossbreeds enough Grisham-style intrigue and Turow-style brooding to make for a sulfurous mix. Mr. Hart’s prose style keeps it bubbling, sometimes spilling over the top." Janet Maslin

Raleigh News & Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"More than anything else—more than a terrific whodunit, an unsentimental, clear-eyed story of love and forgiveness, and a gripping family saga—The King of Lies is a masterful piece of writing." Rod Cockshutt

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Call me perverse, but I loved watching the self-pitying hero suffer for being such a spineless worm. … While the motive for his martyrdom doesn’t bear scrutiny, he proves excellent company in court." Marilyn Stasio

Critical Summary

John Hart, a former criminal defense attorney, has written a character-driven whodunit that has critics effusive with praise. Compared to John Grisham and Scott Turow, Hart crafts a story filled with trauma, intrigue, plot twists (with some foreshadowing), and measured, powerful prose. Set in a Southern town, the story chronicles Work’s descent into hell as he replays his relationship with his father, recognizes his "flawed" soul, and finds a circuitous path to redemption. "He’s an original voice in a crowded genre, a welcome addition to both the worlds of literature and suspense," notes the Denver Post. Fortunately, St. Martin’s Press and Hart have struck a deal for two more books.