Bodily Harm ? A David Sloane mystery
Simon & Schuster Touchstone 2010
373 pages hardcover
Bodily Harm by Robert Dugoni is a very good and original thriller. Set in the cutthroat world of the toy industry, this mystery novel starts off strong and only really lets go after the penultimate section. Bodily Harm stars attorney David Sloane who first appeared in The Jury Master and Wrongful Death. Knowledge of these mysteries is not necessary to enjoy this latest Sloane thriller though you will probably want to read them after reading this one.
Attorney David Sloane is just about to walk into the courtroom to hear the jury's verdict in a wrongful death suit when a man tells him the accused is not responsible for the death and gives him a document to prove it. Sloane learns a defective toy prototype may instead be responsible for killing his clients' son.
The defect is related to shoddy manufacturing in China and tied in to the deregulation of business practices in the toy industry. There are also questions about the governmental agency that is supposed to be the consumer watchdog in these situations. This may sound a bit heavy slogging but Dugoni creates very fleshed out characters to carry some of these story elements.
Add to this a couple of murders early on and a contract killer trying to tie up loose ends and you got yourself quite a mystery.
Dugoni is also very good at creating tension. The passage in Bodily Harm where Sloane and his sidekick may or may not arrive at a witness' apartment before the killer is absolutely superb.
I do have reservations with the custody battle segment of this mystery novel. It is set up nicely but it is too big and emotional a narrative ball to be put on the back burner where Dugoni puts it for a lot of this novel. Its resolution is too Hollywoodesque if you ask me.