First-time author Jillian Hoffman was an assistant state’s attorney and a legal adviser in Florida, but I have a feeling she will quit her day job. She was recently paid a seven-figure sum for a two-book deal ,and the movie rights to “Retribution” and her next yet-to-be published book have been gobbled up by Warner Brothers.

The good news is that “Retribution” is worth all the hype and buzz. It’s an intense, fast-paced legal/forensic thriller. Fans of John Grisham and Patricia Cornwell will find it very satisfying – and the good news is that it is not as repulsive and grotesque as Cornwell’s recent Kay Scarpetta atrocities.

The book opens with the violent rape of the central character, Chloe, a young woman with a promising legal career and a bright future. Her rapist is never caught, and her life is shattered, marred by the hideous crime.

A decade or so later, Chloe has moved to Florida and changed her name to C.J. and now works as a respected state prosecutor. When a brutal serial killer, William Bantling, is apprehended, C.J. confronts him in the courtroom – only to recognize Bantling as her rapist.

Because the statute of limitations has run dry on the rape case, C.J. cannot charge him with the past crime nor does she let anyone in on the tense situation. She fears losing control of the case and is determined to see the offender pay for his crimes. But soon Bantling begins to recognize C.J. as the woman he attacked and is determined to use this knowledge to his advantage. Then there are a few nagging discrepancies in the case – is Bantling really guilty as charged of the serial killings?

C.J. must struggle with her desire for retribution and her duty to uphold the criminal justice system. The legal angles of this story are fascinating, and the courtroom drama is first-rate. Although parts of the story are a bit predictable, the story is air-tight, suspenseful and very readable.

Kimberly Carrow

Grass Valley

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