Friday, June 21, 2013

Thursday's List / V.S. Kemanis

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Mystery

Approximate word count: 95-100,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


“V.S. Kemanis is a California native and currently resides in New York. As an attorney, she has been a criminal prosecutor for county and state agencies, argued criminal appeals for the prosecution and defense, conducted complex civil litigation, and worked for state appellate courts.”
Kemanis also has three short story collections available and is working on the second novel in her Dana Hargrove legal mystery series. For more, visit her website.


“Rookie prosecutor Dana Hargrove is unexpectedly assigned to a team in the elite Financial Crimes Bureau, investigating money laundering by a narcotics cartel. Dana is led to believe that she cinched the promotion on her own merit, but soon enough, a hidden agenda emerges. Her new boss needs a rookie for the tedious job of tracing the dirty money through reams of bank statements, and Dana is the perfect candidate—her close girlfriend Melanie works at the biggest bank in Manhattan.”


In the name of the series that Thursday’s List kicks off, Kemanis describes it as a “legal mystery.” I’m not sure I’ve heard that description before. Legal thriller, sure, that’s what John Grisham writes. Mystery, of course. There are a bunch of subgenres, but typically in any of them you’ll have a protagonist who is attempting to solve a mystery of some kind. Figure out whodunit, whatever “it” is, often a murder. Then we have the police procedural or detective fiction, which could be viewed as a mystery with a police detective or private investigator looking for whodunit.

Thursday’s List has some qualities of all of these genres, but doesn’t clearly fit in any of them. We’ll start with mystery. There are many mysteries in Thursday’s List, yet in a typical mystery novel there is one clear mystery: something happened and the protagonist has to figure out the whodunit to complete the story arc. We don’t find that here. It feels more like a thriller where someone is in danger of some kind, whether physical or just threatened in some other way, and the protagonist is the focal point as they try to work their way through to the point where the danger has been neutralized. In fact, calling the book a legal thriller would be the most accurate. However, it differs from the norm in that genre because the lawyer at the center of the story is most often a defense lawyer, providing legal protection for “the little guy” against the more powerful. Here we have an Assistant District Attorney, a prosecutor, as the protagonist and a less well-defined threat. With the District Attorney’s office investigating, we also have a few qualities from the police procedural.

All of that above was my exercise working out on (virtual) paper why Thursday’s List seemed subtly different from the books I’ve read before, even though I’ve probably read more books in any one of the genres discussed than in all other fiction genres combined. It’s past time to mention that I liked Thursday’s List. A great set of characters with some that I’m sure will be doing encores in future books in the series, with the protagonist, Dana, my favorite of the bunch, which is how it should be. A plot that is different, largely because of all the things I talk about above, with qualities that would appeal to fans of any of those genres.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four stars


Vicki said...

It sounds like an interesting book. Especially as it doesn't fit neatly into any one genre.

VS Kemanis said...

This is great! You've confirmed what I hoped for in writing Thursday's List--that I've created a unique genre. Thanks for the review.