DAMAGE by John Lescroart

Book Quote:

“He’s been through difficult times before in his trials, his failed marriage, with his children, in his life, but never before had he completely abandoned his essential view of himself as a good man, an honest man, a man of good character.”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky  (JAN 04, 2011)

The arch villain in John Lescroart’s Damage is Roland Curtlee, the pampered son of Cliff and Theresa Curtlee. The Curtlees are a wealthy and politically connected couple who own San Francisco’s number two newspaper, the Courier. Ro has been released from prison after serving nine years, well shy of his original sentence–twenty-five years to life. Although Ro was found guilty of raping and murdering his family’s housekeeper, Dolores Sandoval, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. This leaves the new San Francisco District Attorney, Wes Farrell, in an awkward position. The Curtlees supported Wes’s candidacy and provided him with favorable press coverage. Now they expect payback. They want Ro to be freed on bail and furthermore, they do not want him to be retried.

Damage is a searing indictment of a criminal justice system that is riddled with flaws. The District Attorney is an elected official who is answerable to the public, and he is subject to the same pressures as any other politician. He needs money and influence to win, which robs him of the independence that a DA should have in order to make sound decisions. Long story short, a loathsome and sadistic sociopath goes free on bail, and then the bodies start to pile up. Fifty-seven year old Abe Glitsky, a long-standing Lescroart character, is head of San Francisco’s homicide department, and he is no shrinking violet. He has “a flat, deathless, and menacing stare,” which he uses to good effect. Amanda Jenkins is an ambitious prosecutor who helped put Ro away and now works under Will in the DA’s office. Glitsky, Amanda, and others will knock themselves out trying to find a way to keep Ro from causing further mayhem.

This is one of John Lescroart’s most compelling legal and psychological thrillers in years. Damage has sardonic humor, strong dialogue, lively characters, and a complex but well constructed plot. An exception is a twist that the author throws in at the end. Most alert readers will see it coming. In addition, defense attorney Dismas Hardy, who has been the protagonist of many of Lescroart’s previous novels, makes a few superfluous cameo appearances. It is more than enough to observe the determined Glitsky wrestling with Wes, the mayor, and the chief of police; Farrell vacillating between doing what is right and what is expedient; and Ro and his family using their money and power to manipulate public opinion.

To Lescroart’s credit, he does not provide us with a “feel-good” story. On the contrary, he clearly demonstrates that sometimes, judges, detectives, and prosecutors—as much as they might want to do the right thing—fail in their mission to keep criminals behind bars. Damage is a hard-hitting look at what can happen when immoral individuals do battle with those sworn to uphold the law.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 76 readers
PUBLISHER: Dutton Adult (January 4, 2011)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
AUTHOR WEBSITE: John Lescroart
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Our review of previous books in the series:

And a review of his stand-alone thriller:


Auguste Lupa Series:

Dismas Hardy / Lt. Abe Glitskey Series:

Wyatt Hunt / Insp. Devin Juhle:

Gina Roarke / Insp. Devin Juhle:

Music by the author:

January 4, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: California, Sleuths Series

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