Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review ~ Critical Reaction by Todd M. Johnson

Hello Friends!

Sorry I have been away so long! Life got nuts! Christmas was awesome, and then I finished my M.Div - yay! And now, I have nothing to do but read for a while. WIN! I also got behind on my reviews, so over the next week or so, hopefully I can catch up. I've got several great books I really want to share with you.

The first one is Critical Reaction by Todd M. Johnson, which I received as an ARC in exchange from my honest review from the publisher vie NetGalley. This is my first book by him, and I really enjoyed it! It is kind of a legal thriller with some mystery/suspense thrown in.

Summary: Hanford Nuclear Facility in Washington State was used for decades by the US Government to grow its nuclear arsenal. After the Cold War ended, however, it was shut down, and mostly abandoned. That is, except for those few who stayed behind to make sure nothing "explosive" happened. Then, one Fall night, something does. Nothing major - no mushroom clouds or anything, but major enough to set off the radiation lights, and release an eerie green cloud to the buildings and their immediate surroundings. Hanford authorities claimed it was nothing, but its now a few months later, and those exposed are feeling a bit funny, even though their tests are coming back negative. Oh, and a couple of people have disappeared, or died suddenly. Is it natural, or is something more sinister going on?

Enter famed trial lawyer Ryan Hart and his newly barred daughter Emily. Emily hears of the situation from an old college friend who was there the night it happened, Kieran Mullaney. Kieran is one of those experiencing problems, and decides to sue the owners of Hanford. After one lawyer backs out, Kieran relies on Emily and her father to get to the truth of what really happened at Hanford. Ryan, meanwhile, is skeptical that anything can be done with so little evidence, but as time goes on and things get more mysterious, he too is drawn into the case. As the case heats up, so does the mystery behind it. A dirty judge, a smarmy cooperate lawyer, and someone willing to go to great lengths to keep Hanford's secrets safe. What is really going on at Hanford?

What I liked: This was the first book I read by Mr. Johnson, and I really enjoyed it. I liked that it was a combination legal thriller and mystery. There wasn't too much of one or the other - a perfect combination. I enjoyed meeting the characters and hearing their stories. I also enjoyed learning about Hanford. Even though I grew up in WA state, I had never heard of Hanford, and was surprised to know it was only a few hours away from me my whole life. I also enjoyed the suspense Mr. Johnson kept us in throughout the book. He did a great job keeping the bad guy's motives hidden for the majority of the book - a rare treat!

What I didn't care for: This is one is definitely my personal opinion - it drove me nuts how many times characters would pass by each other or have short conversations but not actually share information. Now, I realize, that is probably realistic, but as the reader who already knows what each character does, it was aggravating watching them interact and not share their knowledge! AAAHH!!! Things could have been figured out so much sooner if that had happened. However, I know that isn't how real life works, and for the story line, it worked too. For example, one security guard, Paddy, who is also experiencing symptoms but is not a part of the lawsuit, interacts several times with Kieran, whom Paddy knows is suing, yet does not bother to share his suspicions, or research about the missing guard. I know, it fits the story, but for the reader, it is a bit frustrating. I wanted to reach in and throttle the characters...which probably means Mr. Johnson did a fantastic job making them realistic and true to life. :)

Overall, a very intense and enjoyable read. If you like legal thrillers, suspense, or mysteries, you should enjoy this book!

Happy Readings,

Sarah K