Well-crafted legal thriller: "Fatal Trust" by Todd M. Johnson

Cover Art

about the book....

A Simple Job. An Unbelievable Payout. But in Risking It All On Blind Trust, He May Just Lose Everything . . .

Ian Wells is a young, ambitious Minneapolis attorney struggling to build up a law practice while caring for a mother with Alzheimer's. As the stress and bills mount, Ian is nearing the breaking point when everything changes with a single new case. All Ian must do, the client demands, is judge whether three men qualify for nine million dollars of trust funds soon to be paid out by determining whether they've been involved in any criminal activity for the past twenty years. Ian's fee for a week's work: the unfathomable sum of two hundred thousand dollars.

The job seems too good to be true, and Ian wants to turn the offer down, but his needs weigh more heavily. He warily accepts the job--but is quickly dragged deep into a mystery linking the trust money to an illegal enterprise dating back to Prohibition and the greatest unsolved crime in Minnesota history. Ian soon finds himself the target of a swiftly tightening criminal investigation--realizing too late that this so-called simple job has spun out of control and now threatens his career, his future, and his life.

my review....

Johnson's third novel is a well-written foray into the darker side of the law, where boundaries become a bit blurred and you aren't always sure who the good guys and bad guys are. As someone who loves suspense novels, I appreciated that this novel had plenty of action-filled scenes, mysterious memories from the past, and some pulse pounding moments where the characters are in peril and you aren't sure how things will end up. Although this certainly isn't a character-driven novel, Johnson does a good job at fleshing out Ian's character in particular, showing us the good, the bad, and the ugly, but leaving us rooting for him all the same. I liked how the author isn't afraid to give his characters real flaws, as this of course makes them all the more believable. And Ian's mother, who has ever-worsening Alzheimers, ends up being quite the character in her own right. Of course, no good story leaves out the element of love, and Johnson does a fine job at weaving in that possibility as well (though no one would ever confuse this novel with a romance, which is just the type of book I was looking for when I picked up a copy of Fatal Trust!) I think what I most enjoyed about this book is that I really felt like I was putting the puzzles of the mystery together along with Ian, with the author giving enough clues (but also red-herrings) that I really had to think in order to figure things out. The last third of the story really picks up in pace and if you are anything like me, by the end you will be flying through the pages as fast as you can keep up. Now that, to me, is the sign of a good thriller!

A well-crafted plot with plenty of suspenseful surprises makes "Fatal Trust" an enjoyable read from start to finish. Those readers in the mood for a legal thriller should add this one to their arsenal. I award this novel a solid rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

about the author....

Todd M. Johnson

Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter. Visit his website at www.authortoddjohnson.com.

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