Friday, May 6, 2016

The Jezebel Remedy, by Martin Clark

Virginia circuit judge Martin Clark must have heard some good stories in his law career.  He writes some, too.  His latest, The Jezebel Remedy, follows the case of Lettie VanSandt, a nutty woman in a small Virginia town.  She is a serial legal client of Joe Stone, who listens to her crazy tales, and has for many years helped her with her patents, trusts, and silly lawsuits.  He tolerates her oddities, much to the chagrin of his wife and law partner Lisa Stone.

When Lettie is apparently blown up at her home, all signs point to a meth lab explosion.  Joe knows that's unlikely, but the community nods and thinks they finally know why she was so odd--it was the drugs.  When a scientist from a drug company shows up claiming that Lettie had developed a ground-breaking pharmaceutical treatment, the Stones get caught up in questions about Lettie's estate, the truth of the stranger's claims, and the mysterious meddlings of one of the world's richest men.

As you might expect, The Jezebel Remedy is good beach-read fiction.  It's a fun fast-paced story, which I can recommend to readers who enjoy legal fiction in the vein of Grisham et al.  I hated two things about the book, though.  First, after 20 years of marriage, Lisa starts sneaking around, dating another lawyer.  She even rendezvouses with him for a weekend in the Bahamas.  As a result, I hated her.  Her betrayal seemed so pointless and evil.  I know, it's just a character in a novel, but I was so angry with her that it seriously tainted my reading experience.  I guess I relate to Joe.  I'm a boring guy who is lucky to be married to a gorgeous woman who would be a catch for anyone.  Not that I suspect she is as duplicitous as Lisa.  I just felt for poor, boring, faithful Joe.

The second thing I hated was that this crazy woman, Lettie, would have actually come up with a viable and potentially very lucrative pharmaceutical product.  Again, it's fiction.  Works of fiction are full of fictional things.  And part of reading fiction is suspending belief.  It's a minor quibble, I know, but it added a scrim of silliness that slightly obscured the otherwise good story.  All of that said, even though I hated some things about The Jezebel Remedy, I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind reading some of Clark's other books.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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