By this, her ninth novel, it is clear that Jodi Picoult is fascinated by the law and lawyers. Her courtroom scenes take up more and more of her novels, and in this one, about a prosecutor gone awry, we seem to spend almost every waking minute of this novel in the courtroom. (If Jodi Picoult were not such a talented novelist, she probably would have made a formidable prosecutor herself.)
Again, Ms. Picoult tackles tough issues. We see a family brought to its knees by child molestation. We see the shortcomings of the law which attempts to deal with this tragedy. We see the bizarre and heart-rending custom of putting young children through a competency hearing to see if they are able to take the stand. (I don’t believe this is the custom in the UK, where I am from. There, it is just assumed that a young child should not be subjected to such an ordeal.) We see a prosecutor typically frustrated by the limits of the law, and exhibiting typically black-and-white thinking (which is dangerous.)
In short, we have a gripping narrative with well-drawn characters. Jodi Picoult pulls off this feat even with characters who are not likable, including the protagonist, that bane of every novelist, the unlikable female protagonist. Most readers are going to hate this person, but Ms. Picoult makes her believable, tragic, and very very compelling. Five stars.