Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Victim

25879359In the spring of 2003 on a desolate stretch of Arizona highway, Anton Mackey’s life was changed forever. A reckless decision to get behind the wheel when he was in no condition to drive spawned a moment that threatened to destroy everything the 21 year-old had spent his life working toward. In an instant, Anton made a decision to save himself. A decision that claimed the lives of two people.

Eleven years later, Anton is a rising star in the Miami criminal defense community. He is married and has an infant daughter. He is earning a good living and steadily building a name for himself as an aggressive advocate for the accused. Anton shares an office with veteran defense attorney, Jack Savarese. A mentor of sorts, Anton strives to model his practice - and career - after Jack’s. A Miami criminal defense legend, Jack’s accomplishments in the courtroom are second to none. However, Jack remains burdened by the conviction of Osvaldo Garcia, a mentally-ill client from ten years earlier found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the death of a troubled teen.

When Daniella Avery, the beautiful wife of a man accused of a heinous act of domestic violence, comes into Anton’s office seeking his services, Anton thinks he’s landed a great case with a great fee. But when he succumbs to temptation, he realizes that Daniella is a figure from his past.

Anton finds himself caught between the possibility of being exposed and the fact that his client - Daniella’s husband - may be an innocent pawn in the victim’s attempt to carry out her revenge against Anton. As Anton struggles to balance defending his client while concealing the secret he has sought to forget, he uncovers the truth behind what really happened on that highway eleven years earlier. The truth that may be connected to the conviction of Osvaldo Garcia.

*May Contain Spoilers*
The label of victim is sometimes easy to assign, though that isn't the case in Eric Matheny's novel, The Victim. By definition, a victim is someone who has endured harm. But when each character has been dealt horror by other characters, who is considered the hero, the villain? Matheny challenges readers to judge his characters, tally their crimes, and bear witness to tragedy and revenge and terror. And, no, it won't be easy.
Anton Mackey, successful lawyer, proud father, understanding husband.
A man who thinks that the past will never catch up to him though he's still inhaling smoke from the fire he set. Anton is a character that straddles the fence between good and bad. Readers will see his crimes, see his punishment. Though he is a likeable character, his misdeeds weigh heavily. Anton is strong, brave, understanding, and in his own way, loving. He's also a liar, a criminal, self-preserving. Readers will struggle to understand their feelings about his character. I didn't like him through most of the novel, however his regret and sorrow did eventually win me over. Compared to Daniella, he does look like the hero, though scarred.
Daniella Avery, abused wife, scared woman, bruised, yet hopeful.
Daniella is motivated by one thing: revenge. Revenge against the man who killed two people who mattered the most to her. She's devoted her entire life to finding justice. She wants Anton to break, to suffer. She sets up her husband in attempt to force Anton's hand. If he confesses to his crimes, she'll confess to hers. Like I said, Matheny doesn't make this easy for his readers. Daniella is not a likeable character, nor is she completely sane. But therein lies the blur. The inability to cast all the blame on her. She may be vengeful and angry and a murderer herself, but it isn't cut and dry. There are no simple solutions to this chaos.
The Victim is a novel of interweaving madness. When Anton takes the case of Bryan Avery he assumes that this man is guilty of beating and nearly killing his wife. Then Daniella admits to making the whole thing up, lying to the police, knowing about Anton's  past decision to destroy evidence and therefore killing two people. Anton believes that he can fight his way through this, use his lawyer training and quick wit to catch Daniella in a lie and save his client. He believes that he can win though the odds are stacked against him. Daniella has had eleven years to plan. Every movement. Every word. Trapped in a situation where there are no winners, the fight becomes a desperate need to survive and readers will find themselves lost in a wreck that threatens no survivors.
Rating: 4/5 Cups

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