Beauty Vs. The Beast, by M.J. Rodgers

>> Thursday, March 09, 2006

book coverBeauty Vs. The Beast is the first in M.J. Rodgers' Justice Inc series, centered around the lawyers working of the Seattle law firm with that name. I've actually read one of the five books already, Baby Vs. The Bar, but that was without really knowing anything about it being part of a series. I'd just finished a Rodgers book I'd liked, The Dream Wedding, and my friend had this other one in her shelves, so I just borrowed it. Anyway, that one is book #2 in the series, Baby Vs. The Bar. After the AAR review of the entire series (which I link to above), I ordered the rest of the books.


Attorney Kay Kellogg thought she had seen it all until her psychologist client brings her a case that's destined to set a new precedent. Psychologist Damian Steele has been treating a dual-personality patient, LeRoy Nye, and has successfully "killed" Roy, the nasty half of his personality. But now Roy's wife is filing a multi-million-dollar wrongful death suit against Damian, claiming he "murdered" her husband.

The case causes an immediate sensation and ultimately the jury is faced with redefining life itself. Kay knows that in order to win she'll need her client's full cooperation. But Damian refuses to give her all the facts. What is he hiding and why? While Damian seeks to protect Kay from physical danger, he also knows he must keep his emotional distance; for his deadly secrets stalk the mind as well as the heart.
Well, this was certainly interesting. The plot did completely overwhelm the romance, as the AAR reviewer warned, but it was interesting enough that the book was still a success for me. A B-.

Kay Kellogg is a lawyer at Justice Inc. One day, her boss, Adam Justice, asks her to meet a friend of his who has a very unusual case she might want to take. That friend is psychologist Damian Steele, who's being sued for killing one of the personalities of a Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) patient.

It's a case that's just fascinating. The patient, Lee Nye, had come to Damian complaining about black-outs. He'd wake up and be in strange places (in an alley behind a bar, for instance, reeking of alcohol, a couple of ribs broken and a rat nibbling on his fingers), hours or days after the last thing he remembered. Trying to find out exactly what happens during those blackouts, Damian hypnotizes Lee and they discover there's another personality inside him, a very self-destructive, aggressive one called Roy. So Damien treats Lee, and the upshot is that he "kills" the Roy personality. Thing is, Roy was married, and once Lee gains complete control of his consciousness, he divorces the woman. And so the woman decides to sue Damian in civil court for killing her husband.

Most of the book is a wonderfully done courtroom drama, and that's what worked for me best. The case is obviously weird and entertaining, and so are most of the characters. Plus, Kay is a very competent lawyer, and I loved seeing her tear down the opposing counsel's witnesses and manouver around his tricks (which were many and very unethical).

Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, Damien and Kay are very attracted to each other, and as they prepare themselves for the case, they also give in to that attraction. This thread was definitely not the high point of the book, but it was basically ok. The protagonists were likeable enough, if lightly drawn (though that Beauty and the Beast comparison just felt a little labored), and some of the scenes were fun. But, to be honest, whenever they were together, what I was wishing for was more about the court case.

The book's main weak point was the climax, which was just not up to the development of the rest of the mystery. The best scenes -as I've mentioned ad nauseam- had been those of the courtroom drama, and I think it would have been miles better to have the climax of the action there, inside the courtroom, mind against mind. It certainly looked like it was heading in an interesting direction there, with them planning to interrogating a certain person (don't want to give any spoilers!), but then it ended in a much more clichéd fashion, and one that wasn't really all that plausible. I just didn't buy the motivation of the culprits.

Still, this is a good introduction to the series. I'll try to read the rest of the series as soon as possible, and see how they compare.

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