Pawnbroker (Jerry Hatchett)

jerry-hatchett-bookIgnore the crappy cover. “Law. . . It was all a game, one whose outcome was usually determined not so much by right and wrong as by who had the money and who held the power.” I’ll buy that. In the case of this snappy, fast-paced novel by Jerry Hatchett, law as game and money and power is the whole point. Gray Bolton is a simple pawnbroker. He spends his days with the poor, the downtrodden, the hopeless and helpless of society.

* small spoilers* It isn’t a fancy life for the son of a powerful Judge, but Gray is content. Until the unthinkable happens. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Abby, and they have two young daughters. They live in a town where everybody knows everyone else. He is bored by the daily routine of people bringing their junk in with sad stories and expecting a lot of money in return. Until one day when all that changes.

An armed robber comes into the shop and Gray has to kill him in self-defense. It turns out that the robber is actually a cop and Gray gets arrested for murder. Knowing his small-town lawyer can’t handle this tough case, he hires a big shot lawyer from Memphis named Lucas. As things quickly start spinning out of control, it’s up to Gray and Penny (Lucas’ investigator) to figure out what’s going and what everyone is looking for.

This is an exceptionally tight thriller. So tight that you may have to loosen the belt around your pants. Cleverly written, with engaging twists and turns, along with a smattering of humour, this is a novel you won’t want to put down. The greed, nepotism, and inherent evil of a group of people with no restraints upon their power is shown in its clear brutality and total disregard for human life and the liberties the ‘law’ is supposed to provide.

Jerry’s take on the rotten core of politics and law inherent in the “Good Old Boy” mentality is spot-on. Not all Southern politicians and ‘peacekeepers’ are evil, but both historically and in modern times, the Southern political and legal climate is just as convoluted and inherently twisted (if not more-so) than the overall political climate of the U.S. and the world. There is a fascinating secondary story line to the book that makes excellent use of Jerry’s forensics background and keeps the story interesting on several levels.

As in real life, it’s not always easy to discern who the ‘good guys’ are, but by this book’s end, the good guys will leave a lasting mark on the reader’s mind, as will the ‘bad guys’. If you like well written thrillers with likable characters, as well as truly despicable ones and a well developed story line, give Hatchett’s work a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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