Keep No Secrets, by Julie Compton. Fresh Fork Publishing. 344 pages. $15.95.
This powerhouse legal thriller focuses its attention somewhat less on the legal dimensions than on the tormented relationships of the main characters. Ms. Compton probes the slow disintegration of a loving relationship once questions of trust and forgiveness corrode its core. Growing out of the situations developed in the author’s debut novel, “Tell No Lies,” this new effort reintroduces St. Louis district attorney Jack Hilliard several years after his personal and professional disgrace.
Jack has gone a long way toward redeeming himself. His betrayed wife, Claire, has allowed him back into the family. His past missteps have been largely forgiven by the community he strives to serve with diligence. But can he truly be trusted? Will there always be a shadow of doubt about his integrity? Can he ever totally free himself from a tainted image?
These questions become white hot when Jenny Dodson, the beautiful lawyer who had tempted him before and to whom Claire believes he has an addiction, returns to town fearing for her life and needing Jack’s help. The one night Jenny and Jack spent together provided her alibi when she was tried for murder. Jack, to his disgrace and lingering shame, saved her by honestly admitting to the indiscretion. Already losing the fight with himself by being in touch with Jenny without fully considering his obligations to Claire, Jack is caught in the emotional crossfire of divided personal and professional loyalties.
A second, but related plot line develops when Jack is accused of sexual assault by his son’s girlfriend. His relationship with his son, Michael, has been frosty ever since Jack betrayed Claire. Can Michael – can Claire – believe Jack’s innocence given his past indiscretion? Did that addiction overwhelm his good sense and self-control when he confronted a young woman bearing a striking resemblance to Jenny?
Can Jack sit back and trust that the legal system he knows so well will take its proper course, or must he take action that further jeopardizes his most important relationships and his sense of himself as an honorable man?
As Julie Compton skillfully advances her plot, the possible answers to such questions turn over and over. The novel becomes at once a morality play, psychological drama, and legal puzzle. Difficult to classify, Keep No Secrets is very easy to like. It’s a true page-turner in which the stakes are high on several levels. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the April 17, 2013 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the April 25 Naples edition, and the June 6 Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Compton 1 and Florida Weekly – Compton 2