3 out of 4 stars
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Sam Young is a very successful defense attorney. He is getting ready for a trial in which he will be defending a man accused of murdering his wife. But suddenly, people keep cropping up around him that all seem to be connected to each other and his client in some way, and they all know Sam. They also all have one thing in common. They have been killed before but are unable to remain dead. As Sam struggles to piece together what is happening around him, he realizes that what he really needs to be doing is prepping for an even bigger trial. This one will have much higher stakes than just the life of one client, and the judges will be much more … celestial … than those he is used to dealing with.
Almost Damned by Christopher Leibig is a thriller that combines courtroom drama with supernatural and religious themes. It is the sequel to Leibig’s first book, Almost Mortal, but contains a standalone storyline. Because I have not read the first book, however, I did struggle to figure out what was going on early in the book, as many of the characters and the general theme overlapped between stories.
The premise of the book is rooted in the Book of Enoch, a Hebrew religious text dating back to before the birth of Christ. The book contains the story of fallen angels and the origin of demons on Earth. After coming to Earth and mating with human women, the angels were sent to be punished in Hell for 70 generations. At the time of the novel, this sentence has since expired, triggering an important trial for Sam, his loved ones, and his clients. Despite the religious background of the story, I wouldn’t consider it Judeo-Christian fiction. This book falls more into the category of “Bible as literature” for me. I think it could be enjoyed by a person of any faith or none at all. Although I did a bit of independent research on the Book of Enoch, having never heard of it, the novel also does a good job of providing an overview so that the reader understands the basis for the story.
I really enjoyed the fast pace and intrigue of this book. There were constantly odd characters springing up and providing little clues to try and piece together to form the big picture. I also enjoyed the legal aspect of this book, as I found the defense lawyer’s strategy intriguing. His friend and firm tech guy, Nguyen, played a very entertaining role with his quirky personality and his ability to dig up dirt on people with methods that may not strictly be legal. I found the book difficult to put down because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Some of the scenes contained supernatural elements, but they were described so well that I could picture them easily.
My one complaint about this book was that I spent a good portion of it trying to figure out what was going on. To be fair, a lot of that was on me as the reader for reading this book before the first one in the series. However, I think it would have been helpful to have a bit more background given for other readers who may stumble upon this book first. I would have liked a recap of the first book toward the beginning of this current one to help introduce where the story stood. There were also several minor characters that were introduced without any backstory. I could tell they were from the previous book but never got much of an explanation of their role.
Overall, this was a very entertaining read. I liked it so much I’m planning to check out the first book in the series as well. Overall, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. Had I already read the first book, I may have been able to give it a full score, but I do think the author could have included some information to help guide readers who missed the first book. I think this book would be enjoyed by those who enjoy biblical stories for their literary value, as well as those who enjoy legal thrillers. There is a smattering of profanity and violence throughout the text, so readers sensitive to that content may want to proceed with caution.
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