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By Louise Ure

Mysterious Press (June 20, 2005)
ISBN: 0892960094

Reviewed by Karen Meek

FORCING AMARYLLIS is the debut novel from Louise Ure and features Tucson trial consultant Calla Gentry. Initially conceived as a stand alone novel, I was pleased to hear that Calla is set to return for a second adventure.

Calla’s sister Amaryllis was raped and severely injured seven years ago. Soon after her attack she tried to commit suicide but her attempt failed, leaving her in a coma. Calla spends nearly all her salary on a private nursing home for Amy whilst keeping up hope for a recovery. During those long seven years Amy has only spoken twice. Amy’s experience has impacted heavily on Calla’s life, financially of course but also personally, she has had few relationships, and professionally, she will only work civil law cases. Two of those things are about to change.

The trial consultant firm Calla works for is overloaded at the moment and her boss Jessica insists that Calla does some preliminary work for a large law firm until Jessica can take over. Calla can’t refuse as she only had a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Jessica about not taking criminal cases. The law firm is representing a local landowner, Raymond Cates, who will be on trial for rape and murder. There are strong similarities between this crime and her sister’s rape and Calla wonders if Cates could be her sister’s rapist. Her sister never gave many details about her attacker and never reported it to the police. Calla teams up with the law firm’s handsome Private Investigator to discover if Cates is guilty of both crimes.

FORCING AMARYLLIS is an assured first novel and I’m expecting to hear it nominated for best first novel come the awards season. One of the strongest elements is the setting. Ure brings the heat and, at one point, tropical rain to life and gives an incredibly clear picture of living in one hundred degrees plus temperatures. Calla is a selfless individual, giving her all for her sister but she does manage to get something back for herself during the book. She’s a strong and resourceful character, which shows through especially at the end of the book. There is a great cast of minor characters including her crossword composing aunt and her best friend who now runs a restaurant. I was also fascinated with all the background on jury consulting such as who to choose and what to ask them and what their answers meant. This was enjoyable read with an unpredictable ending. Fans of the film ‘Jagged Edge’ should enjoy this.

There isn’t much ‘on-screen’ violence but there are some upsetting descriptions of the physical damage caused by the rapes that occurred in the story.

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