Out of Reach by Jeffrey Millhollin

four stars

Out of Reach opens on a precious scene: a small girl, Jenny, bargaining with her father, Jim Markman, for Saturday morning pancakes and a trip to the zoo. She is clearly the apple of his eye, as he’s quickly cajoled into granting her every wish. Life could not be more ideal for the Markmans in that moment. Tragically, that very same day, young Jenny finds herself at the mercy of strangers who have kidnapped—and ostensibly murdered—her. The weight of this great loss causes Jim’s marriage to fall apart as he throws himself full-force into his work at the District Attorney’s office. Six years after the horrific kidnapping of his young daughter, Jim must confront a high-profile murder case that might just be the most complicated trial of his life. Just as the state seems to be cinching their case against the defendant, a dubious character called Clammer, the lead defense attorney comes to Jim with the most unusual deal he’s ever heard. Clammer knows the whereabouts of Jim’s daughter. Claiming that Jenny is still alive and that his client is the only one who can direct the distraught lawyer to his lost progeny, the defense attorney begs Jim to throw his own case out the window in order to salvage what’s left of his family. Understandably ambivalent, Jim asks for proof, and upon seeing photographic evidence, he is convinced of what he must do. In order to avoid a mistrial that might lead to the DA’s office reopening the case, Jim has to convince a jury to exonerate the obviously guilty man of their own volition. Calamity ensues as he battles for justice, retribution, his family, and ultimately, his own life.

Written by a man who practiced law for over 40 years, this intriguing crime novel reads true to life. Compelling from start to finish, Out of Reach hooks the reader at the outset and won’t let go until he or she has run the gamut of emotions. This book has an addictive quality that is the mark of any great procedural novel.