Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster (Non-Spoiler Review)

Josie Bates is a disgraced criminal attorney doing the ostrich in Hermosa Beach when she’s hit up by her old college roommate. This roommate (Linda), who’s breathtakingly pretty, gave birth to a daughter who’s breathtakingly pretty (Hannah) and who’s been arrested for the murder of her grandfather, and is therefore, understandably, breathtakingly distraught. Josie allows herself to be dragged back to the world she’d left behind and before she realises, is in over her head.

Goodreads Avg: 3.78

My rating: undefined

So, it’s a standard whodunnit with a pinch of legal drama and pounds of melodrama thrown in. Our favorite lawyer of course goes way out of her way for her client; she’s got a sidekick in the beautiful specimen of manlihood that a retired cop makes (named Archer, just Archer); we’ve got a client who’s too stupid for her own good. All the ingredients chucked in made for a book that was a 6-hour, one-sitting read.

But wait, you might be thinking, if it was as good as that, why the stingy 2-star rating? Ah! Let me tell you the reason.

I picked up this book for the lack of anything better to read with my breakfast. I didn’t feel like rehashing Harry’s shenanigans or searching for shortcuts in Ms Diwekar’s too-honest weight loss manual and I had just realised on re-reading how trite my favorite fanfictions from childhood are. A cleansing being in order, I fell back on the good old whodunnit I found on my kindle shelves. Only, while being old (set in 1999-2000), it wasn’t very good.

It started off with a bang though. I really felt Hannah’s fear during the incarceration in the first chapter, I really loved the portrayal of Linda as she raced across the freeway and Josie’s introduction was done through enough dialogue that I forgave the info-dump that followed. But, as the story went on, the very things I had loved in these initial chapters started to grate on me.

Ms. Forster showers us with flowery, long-winded descriptions. I appreciated this flow of imagination when introducing the central players and during hard-hitting moments. But then, she goes on to confer this treatment to every side character (the bartender who appears once), to every setting (the cathedral that read like a tourist manual) and to every moment (all of Josie-Archer “fun” times). By the time I was halfway through, I had started skipping chunks of paragraphs.

But okay, I’m used to wordy writers, I love classics after all. What really grated on me, brought the rating down from a respectable 3 stars to a ragged 2 stars, is the PLOT MADE NO SENSE! And since, I can’t explain myself without divulging spoilers, let me give you the bottomline here and go off on a extremely long, spoiler-filled rant in my next post.

BOTTOMLINE: It’s adequately written and the characterization of Hannah was vivid and well done, I was rooting for her. Overall, it’s disorganized and needs a brutal editor. Pick it up if you find it on your shelves and there’s nothing else you feel like at the moment.

Happy Reading!

PS: I did want to mention the wafts of fetishization I felt from time to time. Hannah was described as dark-skinned and green-eyed, who wouldn’t be out of place “in front of the Taj Mahal in a gold sari or danced on the beaches of Bali… …an exotic creature… …a demonic sprite with those eyes, that skin, her wild hair, and the piercings on her nose and ears”. These descriptors, followed by ravings of her beauty numerous times throughout the book, took me back to Fantastic Beasts, only I was behind the bars of a cage this time.

Then, there was this beauty of a line referring to Hannah, the exotic creature’s birth father,

“Linda hadn’t told anyone about the abuse because there was no one to tell in a country where beating your woman was a sign of manliness.”

Yo, I don’t know which country you mean, but on behalf of every dark-skinned nation, I resent the implication.

Let’s raise a glass to increasing awareness, cheers!


2 thoughts on “Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster (Non-Spoiler Review)

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