Sydney Bauer






Pan Macmillan. This edition published July 2007
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

Tom Bradshaw is the perfect Vice-Presidential candidate. He had a difficult time in college, but overcame drug addiction and now leads the fight against illegal drugs. The nation is stunned when he is found dead in a hotel room of an apparent self-administered drug overdose after being clean for over twenty years. Just as the public is coming to terms with the death of the much-respected politician, it is announced that it wasn’t an accidental death, but murder.

Police very quickly charge Stuart Montgomery with Bradshaw’s murder. Montgomery is Bradshaw’s doctor and is touted as one of the front-runners for Surgeon General should there be a change of administration in the upcoming election. The pair have had a falling out and the evidence points to Montgomery. Attorney David Cavanaugh has never liked Montgomery. He is arrogant and pompous and more than that, he is the reason David’s ex-wife left him all those years ago. When Cavanaugh is asked to represent Montgomery at his murder trial, he hesitates. He doesn’t want to have emotions of the past dredged up again, and there is his current partner, Sara to consider. Despite his misgivings Cavanaugh accepts and quickly discovers that there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. He begins to uncovers a conspiracy that reaches far and wide in the halls of power, putting his life and those around him in danger.

Sydney Bauer’s first book, UNDERTOW was a fast paced thriller and GOSPEL is promoted in the same way. It doesn’t seem to have quite the same pace and I think it suffers for that. The first couple of chapters introduce so many characters that I found it confusing for quite a while. Bauer’s use of adjectives seemed at times a little unnecessary: ‘She took two of the upturned glasses standing on the crisp white towel on the black marble counter and poured them both a drink before gliding across the room, extending her long slender arm and handing him his water.’ It was a very minor detail. She gave him a glass of water would have sufficed. I found numerous examples of this. These unnecessary descriptions detracted from the pace of the book considerably. When a book is 487 pages long, details like this can become annoying.

Most of the plot was predictable. There were a few very clever little twists, but they didn’t arrive until after 400 pages and seemed to come too late. A large part of the ending involved a dramatic, overblown court scene. “'Cavanaugh is a liar,’ he yelled, his voice rising over an astonished crowd. ‘A simple-minded show pony who, in his desperation to win exoneration for his murderous client, has rallied this group of geriatrics, has-beens, teenagers and drug addicts in a pathetic attempt to sully my good name.’” Speeches like this abounded and I felt that any resemblance to a real courtroom situation was purely coincidental.

It’s a shame that GOSPEL was so overdone because there was a good idea in the basic plot premise.

Sep 2008 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem


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