Notorious by Michelle Martinez, is a novel about New York prosecutor Melanie Vargas, who's handling a high profile case involving a drug king pin turned rap star, Atari Briggs. Death, drugs and deceit blend into a provocative and edgy story about courtroom battles and frightening gang violence.
With time about to run out before the hearing starts, Melanie and her team have to deal with unexpected snags in their investigation. Fearful she won't be fully prepared for her case against the popular rap star, Melanie secretly seeks help. She ends up with more than she bargained for after reaching out to an old flame in the FBI.
The characters are multi-dimensional and strong, the storyline is layered and compelling with an unexpected outcome. However, I have a complaint about a character who commits a serious ethical breach and the way her superiors focus on the girl's background of abuse to explain her deceit.
At first the bosses liked her because she had graduated from an Ivy league school with honors; they took her lack of psychotherapy for the abuse she suffered as a sign of stability. But when the violation is revealed they focus on her poor/abusive upbringing and years in foster care to explain her unprofessional deeds.
Abuse does leave lifelong scars but more often than not the victim's integrity stays intact. I was disappointed in the way the author used the stereotypical poor background for this character when abuse doesn't discriminate by class. " (name omitted) hailed from a backwater town in rural Tennessee. Her mother had worked intermittently at menial jobs, and for much of Jennifer's early life, her father was in jail." Somehow getting a college degree made her one of them until she screwed up. Abuse is what happens to a person, it's not who they are; that wasn't the message I received.
Putting my one complaint aside, the author is a gifted writer with a unique voice. A former federal prosecutor, this is Michelle Martinez's fourth legal thriller. Her knowledge of the law and inner workings of the courtroom gives her the ability to write in impressively vivid detail and bring a continuity to the story that keeps the reader's attention.