Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart

A Plague of Secrets opens with a tragic accident. San Francisco police Lieutenant Abe Glitsky's three year old son is hit by a car and sustains a serious head injury. Abe's good friend, defense lawyer Dismas Hardy and his wife step in to help care for Abe and Treya's other child. The book is not about the accident, but its cause and its aftermath inform Glitsky's actions throughout the novel, and probably will continue to do so beyond its pages as well.

What the book is about is a murder trial. When the manager of a popular local coffee spot is found murdered in the alley behind the shop--backpack full of marijuana still slung across his shoulders--all kinds of things come out. Dylan Vogler, who's been managing Bay Beans West since it opened nearly a decade earlier--pulls in an extremely generous annual salary of $90,000. He also runs a thriving pot business, complete with detailed database of customers (ranging from local neighborhood types to lawyers to mid-level San Francisco politicians), out of the coffee shop.

Did the owner of the coffee shop, Maya Townshend, know about her manager's side business? Had he been blackmailing her for years about something completely unrelated? Did Maya murder Dylan Vogler and another college friend of theirs as well?

Although Dismas Hardy--Diz--has no qualms about defending a guilty client (after all, we're all guilty of something), what he's most interested in is the truth. There are several related story lines, each pointing to a different person as the perpetrator, but the truth does out, in a scene of spectacular courtroom mayhem.

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