Retribution: the Return of Denise Ryland

By Chris Wright

Airleaf Publishing; $12.95

Five years after Rockabye Baby, Chicago attorney “Hurricane” Denise Ryland reappears in Retribution, the Return of Denise Ryland, the fifth mystery novel by Memphis native and award-winning Indianapolis meteorologist Chris Wright.

The dynamic lawyer puts career and family life on hold to defend her former sorority sister in a shocking murder trial in a sleepy Indiana town rocked by sexual scandal and death. The antagonist is a rebellious radio DJ who seduces a congressman’s wife, a popular TV news anchor and the daughter of his biggest foe, a conservative minister, all the while driving the station’s ratings — especially with the teen crowd — through the roof. When the cad simultaneously ended all three relationships, he had no idea just how final the end would be: He’s found murdered on a jogging path the next day.

Although the plot is relatively uncomplicated, it’s useless to play detective, trying to keep a step ahead of “the Hurricane,” because Wright dangles few obvious clues. This is a mystery novel — emphasis on novel — best enjoyed by going along for the ride, thanks to Wright’s narrative style that entertains more than it terrifies.

While Wright’s self-published book could use a generous dose of grammatical editing, his flowing style makes the book a pleasant and easy afternoon read. The infusion of depth and humanity into his characters overcomes the sometimes stilted dialog, leaving the reader eagerly anticipating the outcome of the courtroom drama and surprised by an expected yet unanticipated climatic twist.

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