The Victim by Eric Matheny
Any good crime thriller requires precision writing along with a protagonist worth caring about, and Eric Matheny’s superb character study, The Victim, fits the bill. Opening with a verse from the Book of Matthew, the narrative immediately kicks into full gear as two Arizona crash victims find themselves in flames while a man scampers away. Years later, Anton Mackey enjoys a comfortable life as a Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney, however temptation and opportunity ultimately lead him down a road of personal self-destruction, all because he couldn’t fess up to his original sin and keep his “member” locked up. As fate would have it, a certain someone is on the prowl, and the lawyer must confront his inner demons to escape with a little bit of dignity, if any at all.
There’s much to enjoy within the pages of The Victim, as Matheny’s flawless writing and attention to detail lends an incredible amount of realism to the story. After all, Matheny is, in fact, a Miami defense attorney, and according to the acknowledgements, a former frat boy as well, which seemingly explains Anton’s superhero strengths during moments of distress – you know, fighting off Miami gang members and beating up a member of a West Coast biker gang. Even so, this is a work of fiction, and such antics reveal plenty about the egocentric character. Incidentally, it’s both intriguing and troubling how Anton references a “baby mama” and “auntie” every time he discusses African-American criminals, however the author brilliantly creates a sense of time and place through Anton’s conversations with friends and possible foes. Sure, a few cases of heavy exposition telegraph the obvious, but Matheny manages to keep the reader guessing with slick twists and engaging character dialogue. Given the author’s undeniable talent, a continuing Anton Mackey series should definitely be in the works.
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