Best Review of Hostile Witness (thriller/legal Thriller): A Josie Bates Thriller (the Witness Series Book 1):
Most helpful customer reviews 484 of 505 people found the following review helpful. Absolutely riveting from start to finish By Daniel Jolley I haven't read many legal thrillers in the past few years, but I think I am going to have to add more books of this genre to my future reading list - especially those written by Rebecca Forster. Hostile Witness is just a fantastic, completely absorbing read, the kind of book that makes you hate your job because having to get up early for work means having to set the novel aside in the wee hours of the morning just so you can get a few hours of sleep. Any thriller is best judged by the number of hours' sleep you miss, and Hostile Witness is right up there with the best of them.Usually, legal thrillers have a few passages that are dry and boring or feature cardboard characters lacking any spark of life in them. Not so with Hostile Witness. Forster has given life to some vivid, remarkably human characters - the heroic, sympathetic lawyer who puts a painful past behind her to defend a young girl accused of arson and murder; the 16-year-old defendant, a troubled teen lost in emotional chaos and harboring shocking secrets, the girls' seriously dysfunctional mother and step-father seemingly hiding behind mysterious secrets of their own, the hard-nosed yet somehow slightly noble prosecuting attorney, even the victim himself, a man already dead when the novel begins.The protagonist of the novel is Josie Baylor-Bates, a lawyer who finds herself back in the criminal defense game she left some years ago. Not only is she still dealing with the pain of being abandoned by her mother when she was just a young girl, she is haunted by an old case. An accused murderer she successfully defended (and truly believed to be innocent) turned around and killed again - only this time it was her own children. The sense of guilt that tragedy engendered in Josie led her to abandon criminal defense cases altogether and settle down in a quiet beach community with a quiet little legal practice. Then an old college roommate turns up at her door and begs her to defend her daughter. This will be no ordinary case; it will, in fact, explode all over the media. The girl, Hannah Sheraton, is accused of killing her step-grandfather, a man who just happened to be a prominent justice on the California Supreme Court. In the middle of everything is Hannah's step-father, the governor's choice to take his father's place on the high bench. The case has media circus written all over it - even before a series of shocking revelations about the murdered judge come to light, but Josie agrees to take the case after meeting Hannah. She sees a little bit of herself in the young girl, a frightened lass with deep emotional troubles manifested outwardly in obsessive-compulsive behavior, self-mutilation, and a powerful overdependence on her mother.Convinced of her client's innocence, Josie's defense of the girl runs into a number of obstacles, including the girl's own mother and step-father, neither of whom, Josie comes to believe, has Hannah's best interests at heart. All too soon, this case has become intensely personal for Josie, and that leads her to question her own motivations. Forster does a wonderful job of developing these characters, showing you increasingly significant cracks in their facades while holding out on the goods until the very end. You have your suspicions, but you just don't know the truth about what is really going on and who is really responsible for the victim's death until the very end.The novel's most memorable moments take place inside the courtroom, culminating in some unforgettable moments of witness testimony, but the case takes drastic turns (more than once) away from all the cameras and watching eyes. It's an emotional roller coaster for Josie, trying to deal with her own personal baggage alongside the heavy burdens placed upon her by Hannah's incredibly dysfunctional family and the intense pressures of such a high profile trial. A wondrously human heart beats inside the chest of this particular lawyer, though, and that - plus a beautifully constructed plot - is what makes Hostile Witness a novel you just can't put down. 211 of 221 people found the following review helpful. An Exciting Legal Thriller By Bob A. Reiss I like a good deal. You know how when you go to the grocery store and you find your favorite cereal is buy one get one free, you almost feel like you've won some sort of lottery. Now, you know the store has upped the base price of the cereal, but you still snatch it up and through it your cart. There is a great feel to a two for one deal. That's how I have always felt about a good courtroom drama. You're getting two dramas for the price of one. The first drama is outside the courtroom. The incident, the lives affected, secrets, conspiracies and so much more pepper the events leading up to a trial. Then the trial, the legal maneuverings, the back room deals, the attorneys and judges, you can't get much better than that.Recently there has been more and more legal thrillers that forgo the courtroom. The lawyer turned detective who solves the mystery without even filing a motion. While these books are often quite entertaining, I sometimes feel like I missed something. In Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster we get the whole enchilada.Josie Baylor-Bates is a talented yet flawed attorney. Tortured by her past and by her success as a criminal defense attorney, all Josie wants now is to settle into a small neighborhood practice taking care of wills and eveyday legal problems. Then her old college roomate Linda Sheraton shows up at her door, her daughter having just been arrested for the murder of her step-grandfather, a California Supreme Court Justice. This was exactly the kind of high profile case that Josie wanted to avoid. Josie's intentions were to meet with the girl, get her through the bail hearing then hand her off to a qualified attorney, but after meeting with Hannah she can't get the image of the beautiful yet troubled girl out of her head. Putting everything at risk, her new practice, her relationship with her boyfriend and even her life, Josie takes on the case with a passion. A passion for a girl everyone believes is guilty.Hostile Witness is more than just a legal thriller. It is a story of motherhood and abandonment, both physical and emotional. It is also the launch of a new series with an intriguing new protagonist. Like Ben Kincaid or Dismas Hardy, this is a character that you'll want to follow. Along with a strong and complicated hero, Forster creates an intriguing cast of peripheral characters. Archer, the solid as a rock boyfriend and private investigator. Rudy Klein, the honest and well intentioned prosecutor and Hannah the troubled young girl stuck in the eye of the tornado. These characters are the glue that hold this story, and most likely future entries into this series, together.Hostile Witness is an excellent start of an interesting new series. The pace was brisk and readable. The story sucks you in immediately, and the ending is full of thrills and surprises. For anyone who reads this novel, I suggest after completing it going back to reread the first couple of chapters. Doing this will show you how truly well this book was put together. 351 of 381 people found the following review helpful. Sometimes interesting / often absurd By Diane Winger (WingerBooks) It helped that this book was free on Kindle when I ordered it... I had very mixed feelings about this novel. Some of the characters and narrative were done quite well, but there were a number of places where key scenes made no sense whatsoever. During a trial, for example, the main character (defense lawyer) began asking a hostile witness detailed questions about things that happened to him at specific ages ("Isn't it true that, when you were 6, such-and-such happened?"). The lawyer had just been told some vague information about the witness by someone who was unlikely to have known even the vaguest of details, yet seemed to have gleaned all this information from a brief conversation.The book is also in dire need of a spell-checker and proofreading to correct confusing sentence structure and peculiar punctuation.The "bad guys" (and there were several) were all unbelievable. The protagonists, however, were sympathetically drawn.All in all, I doubt I'll read any of the other titles in this series. Hopefully, the author has since started working with a better editing and proofreading team, since she does seem to have some talent for writing and is probably capable of creating a much better novel than this one. See all 4509 customer reviews...
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome book!, January 4, 2012By Patty (CORVALLIS, OREGON, US) - See all my reviewsAmazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)This review is from: HOSTILE WITNESS (legal thriller, thriller) (The Witness Series,#1) (Kindle Edition)This book was so well written. It kept me guessing up to the end. I recommend it to anyone who loves a great mystery with romance. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? Yes NoReport abuse | PermalinkComment Comment5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic thrill ride, January 4, 2012By L. Smith (Upstate New York) - See all my reviews(REAL NAME) Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)This review is from: HOSTILE WITNESS (legal thriller, thriller) (The Witness Series,#1) (Kindle Edition)This book had it all. Everything I enjoy in a legal thriller was in this story. Characters who tug at both your heart and your mind. Courtroom scenes that produce great drama and insight. Twists and turns galore. Fights that are NOT over the top. Family drama as well as legal drama. I am very glad that I took the time to read the sample...then download and finish the whole thing!Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? Yes NoReport abuse | PermalinkComment Comment1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:5.0 out of 5 stars i am now a big fan!!!, January 3, 2012By shopper "shopper" - See all my reviewsThis review is from: HOSTILE WITNESS (legal thriller, thriller) (The Witness Series,#1) (Kindle Edition)i never thought id become a fan of rebecca forster.. i mean i was a loyal john grisham, dean koontz and richard north patterson.. now im going to add up her books to my collection! From the Author I love this book because I feel the characters so strongly. Josie, Hannah, Archer and all their beach crew are as alive to me as if they lived in Hermosa Beach on the Strand. I didn't know how special they would become when I wrote Hostile Witness though. It was never meant to be the beginning of a series. The editor who originally published this book suggested that I continue on, and I'm so glad she did. This book was inspired by a case my husband had (he's a judge). He had to sentence a sixteen-year-old boy to life in the adult prison for a horrendous murder. I started to wonder how I felt about teenagers being tried as adults and that one thought led me down many roads. I am particularly intrigued by Hannah's relationship with her mother and Josie. I hope you will be, too.
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