John F. Dobbyn,
Frame Up
(Oceanview, 2010)

When Michael Knight sees his best friend become the victim of a car bomb, he is thrust into a mystery that is going to change his entire world.

Knight, a former member of the U. S. Attorney's office who now does criminal defense work in a partnership with his mentor, Lex Devlin, took the high road after law school. His best friend and the victim of the bomb did not; John McKedrick became the sole associate of a mob lawyer and, it seems, sank deeper into the mob life -- in fact, sank in too deep to climb out.

The Boston Godfather, Dominic Santangello, finds his son accused of McKedrick's murder and asks Devlin, his boyhood friend, to take on the case. Knight reluctantly agrees to take on the accused killer's defense and quickly discovers he is not dealing with a simple killing. Instead, he is drawn into a case of art fraud and disappearing money that covers several continents. Before it ends, his own life will be on the line.

That's the basic plot line of Frame Up, but a simple plotline cannot describe this novel. Author John Dobbyn is a master at coming up with fresh twists and unusual turns. When you think you've got it figured out, you find he has faked you out and led you in another direction. Despite the fact that the major twist of the book is pretty easy to figure out -- if you've been paying close attention -- the rest are not.

Dobbyn's plotting is both the major strength and the weakness of the book. He keeps things moving so fast and in so many directions that other aspects of the novel are not fully developed. The love story, for example, is sort of taken for granted, love blossoms almost out of nowhere and a couple of Knight's clever turns are not foreshadowed well enough.

Raymond Chandler said, though, that if you take a close enough look at every thriller, you'll find that the book is completely unbelievable. Sure, Dobbyn's book has a couple of flaws but he keeps it moving, keeps you guessing, fakes you out a lot, and gives you a good time. It's a good read. After you finish it, you'll be looking for other Dobbyn titles.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

15 May 2010

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