Overview & Rating
A murder mystery involving a UCLA Law professor who finds a student she was meeting with in her office murdered. She is the key suspect, but she is struggling to prove her innocence. This story gets you ready for the ride, geared up, and strapped in, but then doesn't seem to move anywhere fast. You start to head in one direction then reverse; then another direction, then you reverse again. A potentially interesting plot that could contain many twists and turns, ends up being a disappointing case. Case closed.
Long Knives is centered on the UCLA campus in my familiar Los Angeles stomping grounds. Jenna James, a law professor at UCLA, finds herself a prime suspect of the murder of one of her students. All evidence is pointing to her, yet she is being framed. She enlists two of her friends and former colleagues to represent her and clear her name.
One of Jenna’s laws of sunken treasure students wishes to meet with her privately during her office hours. He reveals he wants to discuss a treasure map that he has inherited from his grandfather revealing the location of a sunken ship known to carry lots of gold. During this meeting she steps out to take a phone call and returns to find him dying in her office. Jenna is scared and horrified and even more so when she realizes that all eyes are looking at her as the murderer. I started to think who took the map? Who wants the treasure? Did the victims brother kill him? Did Jenna’s boyfriend kill him? How valuable is this treasure?
The book begins to unravel quickly but then stalls through until the end. Jenna finds herself in repeatedly life threatening situations that turn out to be unnecessary to the plot. The book is a self titled “legal thriller”, but I neither felt the thrill nor was I at the edge of my seat for the entirety of this book. The overall plot is clever, but the author seems to have been misguided and got lost along the way. When you finally realize who was behind the planned murder you realize that so much time was invested in side stories that did not contribute to the core story. For example…one character decides they can up and fly to Spain to track down an informant to try and gain some insight into the treasure map. Jenna is in this weird no-emotion relationship. Then she goes on a date with a doctor that took care of the deceased student when he was admitted to the hospital. Is the doctor the enemy? Is that why he’s introduced to the story at all? Nope. He’s just a weird side story that doesn’t matter. Somehow for a very important part of evidence, a magical fax comes through with important information that just so happens to have been saved for the right moment. Is the treasure map real? We never really find out in the book. So much time is spent with certain frivolous details when others are regurgitated at the reader out of the clear blue sky. Why did the deceased victim’s younger brother want the map so badly? Who knows. And to be honest, I don’t even really care because the characters weren’t even that likable.
I did not realize until after I had concluded “Long Knives” that it was a sequel to Charles Rosenberg’s “Death on a High Floor”. This would have explained the way there seemed to be so much gusto when introducing the characters and a worth and depth that I did not fully grasp or comrehend. Apparently it’s because I did not read the first book. It seems to me that Rosenerg enjoyed the characters that he had created so much that he took them through these side stories that should have laid down some framework for character building but fell completely flat. I hate to put a book down, but I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you obtained a copy for free.