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Burning Justice
Marti Green, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Publish)

The newest in Marti Green’s award-winning books about the wrongly accused features Dani Trumball in another suspenseful courtroom drama – and her fiercest fight yet. Convicted of setting fire to her house and killing her three children, young Texas widow Becky Whitlaw is sentenced to death. Becky maintains her innocence—even though a part of her worries she may have indeed committed arson during a drunken blackout. Twenty years later, attorney Dani Trumball works with the Help Innocent Prisoners Project, defending cases of the wrongfully convicted. Now living with her husband and two children in California, Dani takes Becky’s case, even though the evidence paints a grim picture. California has been besieged by wildfires, and the raging fires strike dangerously close to home. Dani fights to gather new information that might save Becky’s life, while keeping her own family secure, but time is running out. Getting justice in this case may test not only Dani’s legal talents but also the limits of her own heart.
An attorney’s quest to overturn a woman’s death penalty conviction leads to an uphill battle in Green’s gripping sixth Innocent Prisoners Project legal thriller (after Justice Delayed). Dani Trumball moves from Bronxville, N.Y., to Stanford, Calif., with her husband, Doug, and children, Ruth and Jonah, after Doug gets a job as dean of Stanford Law School. Dani, an attorney for the Help Innocent Prisoners Project (HIPP), takes the case of Becky Whitlaw, a woman on death row in Texas. After Becky’s three young children died in a suspicious fire, she was convicted of murder. Dani files multiple appeals and searches for evidence that the fire was accidental, but the courts continue to rule against Becky, sometimes with apparent political motivation. When Doug becomes ill, Dani has to juggle her work with guiding her family through a harrowing time.

Readers will appreciate Green’s sympathetic portrayal of Dani as a wife, mother, attorney, and advocate who’s trying to devote sufficient time and energy to every aspect of her life. Even when Dani’s feelings and struggles are highlighted, the depths of her personality remain hidden. Her stoic persona is essential to her functioning both at work and at home, but the reader is never allowed to see all the way behind the mask. However, the characterization is sufficient to carry the narrative, and series readers may gain more of an understanding of Dani’s psyche over time.

Green, an attorney, goes into the details of the difficult appellate process but doesn’t let the story get bogged down, always keeping the human element front and center. Every step of Dani’s work is easily understandable, and the twists and setbacks will keep readers wondering how Dani and Becky can prevail against a harsh and biased system. Fans of legal thrillers that lean hard on compassion for the most vulnerable will be drawn to this novel’s admirable protagonist and fast-paced plot.

Takeaway: This gripping legal thriller about saving an innocent woman from execution will draw fans of capable, compassionate heroines.

Great for fans of Scott Turow’s Innocent, John Grisham’s The Guardians.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: -
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B-