Homicide Chart by V.S. Kemanis (Dana Hargrove Legal Mystery #2)

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Homicide Chart is the second book in the Dana Hargrove Legal Mystery series by V.S. Kemanis. I have already read and reviewed the first book here.

When the author asked my opinion on the second book, I jumped at the opportunity to read it, because the character of Dana Hargrove really grew on me in the first story, so I was curious about what was she up to this time.

Six years have passed from the time Dana was a rookie prosecutor working on her first cases. Now Dana is a respected high profile trial attorney who takes on the toughest cases without flinching. The year is 1994 and her hands are full as the crime rate is quite high is New York city.

She is currently working on a series of gang related murders, while her husband, Evan, also a lawyer, works at his private law firm. They have a child, Travis, who is being taken care of by a live-in Dutch nanny, Anneke, due to the parents’ heavy schedules that keeps them away from home for the longest of hours.

Dana is part of the “homicide chart”, which refers to a 24/7 on call rotation for prosecutors to attend to new murder scenes. Not even in her wildest dreams would she begin to imagine that one of the cases could hit so close to home…

One night Dana receives a call for a murder that just happened not far away from her home. A little Dutch girl was killed and the parents are nowhere to be found. Except witnesses have seen a young woman running away from the building around the time the crime was committed.

The book is written through various points of view, so we always know (even before some of the main characters) what is going on. Before Dana figured out that her latest case involved somehow her family, we were already aware of this fact because we’ve been following Anneke with her past catching up to her already days before it all exploded.

Homicide Chart is not a thriller novel where surprises come to us at every page. The readers are the first to know what is going on every step of the way. However this doesn’t diminish the suspense, which really picks up in the second half of the book.

Both books in the series are legal mysteries, and the author does the genre justice very well. We get a lot of details into the workings of a prosecutor and how the legal system operates. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into a world that I will never have access to in real life.

We also get a lot of insights into the lives of people and how their minds operate. We learn lots about Anneke, things that Dana would not know until almost the very end. We literally follow the main characters thoughts as they are formed in their minds, their actions as they are carry them out, and the consequences of those thoughts and actions as they unfold.

There are no real bad guys in this book (at least not in the case that touches Dana personally). Anneke is just a misguided young girl of 19, and Niels, the father of her child, has his own flaws, but he does try to redeem himself at the very end. They are just human beings with their human emotions and mistakes that can happen to the best of us.

Overall I enjoyed Homicide Chart quite a lot. The author has written a really good book, even better than the first one in the series, although I found the tone of this second one a bit more muted, lighter on the action and thrill than the first. It was more grounded, more mature and more serious, which suited me at the time of reading just fine.

Having read both books, I don’t think one should necessarily read the first one before tackling Homicide Chart, however for the sake of learning about the main character and what drives her, I do recommend catching up to Thursday’s List first.

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