Director-screenwriter Alan Hruska, known for his work on several films, including Reunion (2009) and The Man on Her Mind (2014), is also the author of two legal thrillers. He brings his cinematic imagination to his most recent release, Pardon the Ravens (February 2015), a dramatic, edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Hruska’s second novel begins in the fall of 1961 and tells the story of an up-and-coming young lawyer named Alec Brno. Alec, a poor boy who grew up in Queens, is just a couple years out of law school and working for a prestigious law firm. Early in the novel Alec is thrown into a case that doesn’t go according to plan and he shines! Using some well-known tricks of the trade, he turns the jury in his favor. This win leads him to taking on the biggest trial of his career—a case of fraud involving the well-known Angiapello mafia family and a New Jersey oil storage facility. Alec and his family get mixed up both romantically and professionally with the crime family that controls a broad area including Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island in this roller coaster ride of a novel.
New to Hruska’s writing, I found his style to be unique and refreshing. At the beginning of some chapters he sets up the scene as though it was written for a screenplay—describing the characters as well as stating their location and place in time. I really liked this cinematic writing approach. It made me feel even more connected to the characters and setting.
I especially enjoyed seeing Hruska’s characters grow and develop over the course of the novel. For example, Phil, the sadistic crime boss, is smarter than you think. When his drug addicted wife runs off with another man and Phil doesn’t seem to do much about it, I couldn’t help but wonder about his judgment and position as a head mobster. But, with the pacing of a pro, the author takes his time to slowly reveal Phil’s true nature: he is informed, he is ruthless, and he is a force to be reckoned with.
Except for some seemingly unrealistic parts of the plot, Pardon the Ravens is a great book. I highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy legal thrillers, especially those involving mafia crimes. Fans of Scott Turow and John Grisham will certainly enjoy this author’s fresh approach. I look forward to reading Hruska’s debut and following his career going forward.
Reviewed by Libby Bridges
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