Written By James Scott Bell
Reviewed By Nike Chillemi
Try Dying is the first novel in the Ty Buchanan legal thriller series. If this is going to be the measure of the series, I can’t wait to read the next book.
Ty Buchanan is preparing a case involving repressed memories that might make him a partner in his posh L.A. law firm. Meanwhile, he’s dealing with some memories of his own he’d like to repress. Schoolteacher Jacqueline Dwyer, the fiancé he adores and a committed Christian, winds up in what appears to have been a freakish accident. A gang-banger shoots his live-in girlfriend, jumps off a freeway overpass, and lands on Jacqueline’s rooftop, killing her. Less than an hour after Jacqueline’s funeral, a deranged man buttonholes a grief stricken Ty, claiming it was murder. The disheveled man attacks Ty and steals his wallet.
Ty Buchanan is charming guy, and the reader feels for him as he begins to doubt his own sanity. Bell’s ability to describe Ty’s descent into obsession keeps the reader turning pages, as this white-collar hero enters the seamy streets of L.A. seeking the truth, risking his life, and sustaining more than one beating in the process. He’s shocked and horrified by his own behavior when he is able to give another man a beating. Ty is quickly losing what little faith he had left. His investigation leads him to a modern day self-help folk-hero, Rudy Barocos, lionized by local politicians and in the press for rehabilitating gang-bangers.
Ty contacts the attractive female TV reporter who was broadcasting at the scene when Jacqueline died. The newswoman makes a pass at him. He rebuffs her and she scratches him. She winds up murdered later that night, and Ty is set up to take the fall. The police find his skin under the dead woman’s fingernails and arrest him.
The case is high profile. Ty gets out on bail, but then accosts a man who tries to take his photograph. Author Bell, a former trial lawyer, shows us how the game is played. A judge, not thrilled that Ty’s law firm gave money to his opponent’s campaign, issues a warrant to pick Ty up and haul him back to the slammer.
Ty hides out in a monastery under the care of a priest wrongly accused of being a sexual predator. The priest is loosely tied to the repressed memory case Ty had been preparing for. One of the nuns at the monastery is a whiz both on the basketball court and with a computer and she ferrets out information from the internet for Ty and lends him her car, as the police are looking for his.
Ty’s lawyer pleads with him to turn himself in. Ty refuses, thinking he’s the only one trying to find the reporter’s real murderer, and thus clear his name. The skillful revelation of the identity of the broadcaster’s killer took me by surprise. Fans of legal thrillers will absolutely love this book. In fact, so will all mystery and thriller aficionados.