Title: Rough Justice
Author: Brad Smith
Publisher: Severn House
Publication Date: 1 February 2016
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley
Carl Burns returns to his hometown to uncover a viper’s nest of corruption and dark secrets in this tense and twisting novel of suspense: first in a brand-new series.
After ten years’ absence and a spell in prison, Carl Burns has returned to his hometown of Rose City to offer support to his estranged daughter Kate, currently one of four witnesses testifying against former Mayor Joseph Sanderson III, who stands accused of multiple counts of underage rape.
Carl is determined to get justice for Kate, whatever it takes. But with his former sister-in-law Frances his only ally, he finds himself incurring the wrath of powerful enemies as he attempts to uncover the shocking truth beneath the layers of corruption and lies which engulf the town.
I know that you’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover, but for me the cover is one of the most important factors in choosing what book to read. That’s what made me pick up this book in the first place. The cover and the blurb gave me a real Jack Reacher vibe, which is something that I am always looking for. However, the book didn’t turn out to be anything like I expected. It wasn’t a fast-paced, action-packed thriller but rather it was more of a crescendo, slowly building up to a big finish.
Rough Justice is the first novel in Brad Smith’s new series featuring Carl Burns. The book sees Burns return to his hometown of Rose City in Canada to be there for his estranged daughter who is one of the key witnesses in the rape trial of former long-time mayor Joseph Sanderson III. While in town, Burns also helps his former sister-in-law fight against the corruption that is threatening her business.
This book ended up being a little bit different to what I usually read as this book isn’t really a mystery. The whole plot is laid out pretty much from the start, with the focus of the book on the characters and their relationships. Rather than relying on cheap action and unexpected twists, Rough Justice examines how people and their relationships evolve through hardships caused by corruption and power.
Brad Smith has created an interesting character in Carl Burns. In Rough Justice, Smith developed an intriguing and realistically-flawed character that is still likeable despite his negative features. I felt that the character really developed throughout the story and I hope to see that continue in future novels. The other two main characters Frances and Kate are also well-developed and interesting but Carl is the real star of the book.
I am a bit surprised that this is the first book in a series about Burns though for two particular reasons. The first is that for a lot of the book, he didn’t actually feel like the main character. For the first half of the book Kate felt like the main character and then I felt it switched to Frances for the second half. Carl felt more like an important secondary character for most of the book. The second reason is the way the story ended. I am really interested in seeing how Smith could continue the series after that ending.
Even though this book is not the kind that I usually read, I actually enjoyed it and I am looking forward to seeing how Brad Smith continues the series. Carl Burns is an interesting character and I am hoping to learn more about him in future novels.
Worth a read? Yes, Rough Justice is a worth a read. I wouldn’t recommend it for a quick read because it is a bit slower-paced than the blurb suggests (at least to me), but it is an interesting book that is worth a read if you are interested in the way characters and their relationships respond to the hardships they face.