Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Conduct in Question - Mary E. Martin

When I think of successful, modern-day, mystery writers, I think of Stephen King, John Grisham, Walter Mosley, Dean Koontz, James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell. The ability to interject realism into a mystery novel makes it an extremely difficult genre to enter. Some would say that there simply is not enough room in this area to lend admission to a new writer. Whether there is room in the literary community or not, space must be made for Mary E. Martin.

Canadian attorney, Mary E. Martin can not only 'hold her own' with each and every one of these authors, but her ability, at times, outshines them all.

In her breakout novel, Conduct in Question, Martin introduces readers to a hard-working, honest attorney, Harry Jenkins. Harry is the legal machine behind the success of his firm, yet he has always played second fiddle to his law partner, Richard Crawford. Though Harry is constantly prodded by his spoiled wife for ‘carrying more about his clients than earning money’, he remains complacent with his career and applies no pressure upon himself to excel in his finances. Though Harry is not completely happy, he continues in this role until, in less than a week, his life takes a rollercoaster track of unavoidable detours.

Within the span of a few weeks, Harry’s boss dies of a stroke; his firm’s richest client dies under suspicion of murder; a Hong Kong business man pays him more money on a retainer than he’s made in five years and his wife decides to leave him. If this is not enough, a serial murderer known as “The Florist” is murdering young women in the city and the police find that Harry always seems to be connected.

Mary E. Martin has taken estate law, criminal law and politics of bar associations to create a masterpiece that truly belongs on the silver screen. In this legal thriller, Martin beautifully constructs the dining halls of upper-class socialites, the bureaucratic halls of the legal profession, the back rooms of the mob and the hard-working class of people that keep our world balanced. Before the reader reaches the middle of the book, he/she will suspect each and every character (still alive) as the infamous “Florist”.

Through all the suspicion, lore and evil, Martin adds the backdrop of beautiful Toronto, Canada, which becomes a breathtaking character in its own right. Though I’ve never visited the city, I have vivid pictures in my mind of its skyline, communities and architecture.

Conduct in Question promises to be the first in a trilogy. I can’t wait for two and three and if you haven’t heard of Mary E. Martin, mark my word, you will. If you don’t know who she is and you enjoy a great suspense thriller, you have no idea what you are missing.