Nothing But the Truth: a reading of the novel

Reviewed: December 26, 2003
By: John Lescroart / read by Dylan Baker
Publisher: BDD Audio
4 cassettes, 6 hours, $39.95

The Dismas Hardy series offers yet another viewpoint on the life of a lawyer. I donít mean that in a disparaging way. There are a number of writers working in this mystery genre, just as there are many mining the private eye vein. Each has to find a way to tell his or her own story. Grisham works a theme of disillusionment. Patterson mixes his with elements of the thriller. Turow goes for in-depth character studies. Our own Deverell combines keen observation with wry humour. Most of their protagonists are loners. Many of them use a different central character for each novel.

Lescroart has chosen to work with a family man, a reformed drunk and former cop who is naturally introspective and tends to become obsessive when a case is at hand. This work ethic has placed some strains on his marriage. Nothing But the Truth examines those strains.

When Frannie Hardy is called before a grand jury to give evidence about a friend of hers, she refuses to answer some of the questions put to her. Itís a matter of honour. And when the judge and the prosecutor make her late for her commitment to pick up her kids from school, she gives them a piece of her mind and finds herself in jail on a couple of contempt charges.

When Dis goes to work to get her out, he finds that she doesnít really want to tell him about her friendship with another man either, and Dis actually has to end up helping this uncooperative fellow, who is under suspicion of having killed his wife, in order to get Frannie off the hook.

There are good reasons why things are so mysterious,, but they donít hide the fact that Frannie actually has been getting a certain amount of emotional relief from her coffee times with her friend, and she feels guilty about it.

As for the murder mystery and the case of the reluctant husband, Lescroart does a good job of building that up, filling in the background, dropping clues and dragging red herrings across the trail. The solution to the murder is purely physical and brought to light in a Perry Mason-like court setting that I havenít seen in a while.

Itís all good stuff, from the main even to the supporting cast, and Dylan Baker does a fine job reading it to us.