James Macomber,
A Grave Breach
(Oceanview, 2007)

International lawyer John Cann, a member of the law firm of Loring, Matsen & Gould, is back for a third novel in A Grave Breach. He has gone to Germany, at his boss Arthur Matsen's request, to represent Bosnian national Dubran Mribic, "who has been indicted for Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity."

Mribic has been accused of being an international terrorist. He also has some ties to human trafficking.

John may not understand Matsen's request to represent a despicable person of Mribic's ilk, but with his loyalty to the firm, he does as requested. The novel spends some time back in World War II describing how Matsen spent the latter part of the war in Yugoslavia and made an enemy who has bided his time waiting to get revenge.

As an aside, this jump back in time was my favorite part of the book. With author James Macomber's writing style, I could easily imagine enjoying a whole novel dedicated to that war.

A Grave Breach also continues a storyline from the second John Cann novel, Bargained for Exchange. I have not read that book, but apparently a young lady named Janie Reston was tortured and almost killed due to her association to John. She is currently undergoing physical and psychological therapies. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Nathan Fredrich, has his own agenda. It is up to John's colleagues at the firm to help save Janie from yet another form of torture.

When I read A Grave Breach I had to suspend disbelief more than usual. I have not had much experience with law firms in general. I've only met a few military types who have been extensively trained to kill. But I have never met an attorney who kills outside of the courtroom. So, without having background on the characters in this novel, I was a little confused how everybody in this law firm was equally comfortable with the law or with a weapon (or their hands when necessary). The promotional material (which I read after having read the book) cleared up part of the confusion for me by providing a synopsis on the previous novels. But those of you who purchase A Grave Breach won't get that.

James Macomber has had experience in the military (four years) as well as an attorney. So perhaps he is better prepared than most authors to pen stories about a character who was a Special Forces Operative turned international lawyer. If he ever decides to bring to life a character who needs bartending, waiting, car salesman or tennis instructor skills, James is prepped for that as well. He currently resides in Florida with his wife of 25 years.

In many respects I enjoyed A Grave Breach. The novel was fast-paced. The action was frequent. And there was enough comic relief spotting the novel to relieve some of the tension. I did have an issue with this book, but that could easily be resolved by readers new to this author's work. Simply, do not start with the third John Cann novel. Before you read A Grave Breach, start with Bargained for Exchange and Art & Part so you don't have holes in the story line of Cann and company.

review by
Wil Owen

23 February 2008

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