Fighting against time…

by Sebastian Lim

Title: 12 Months To Live

Authors: James Patterson & Mike Lupica

Publisher: Century

ISBN: 9781529136722

A Long Island lawyer who's locked in the most crucial trial of her career suddenly learns that she has cancer and 12 months to live.

So far, things have been going pretty well for Jane Smith. But her life is another story. She’s twice divorced; she’s not all that close to her sister, Brigid, who also has cancer; and Rob

Jacobson, the client accused of killing Mitch and Kathy Gates and their teenage daughter, Laurel, is a liar.

Starting off as an NYPD officer and a private investigator before her legal career began, Jane has gotten so busy and successful that she brings on former colleague Jimmy Cunniff, who was run off the force due to suspicion surrounding a dead suspect he may have had a hand in eliminating. The two of them make a formidable team.

But they are not good enough to defeat father time or the cancer that has now spread from Jane’s neck and brain into her lymph nodes. And her doctor has given her a year to live.

Jane and Jimmy have just been asked to relook into the high-profile Carson case, involving another family of three who were shot dead some years ago. Although she’s far from certain that Jacobson is innocent, Jane’s never yet lost a case, and she doesn’t intend to lose this one.

She responds to the mountain of forensic evidence presented by Suffolk County D.A. Kevin Ahearn, who’s also never lost a case, by crowing that there’s no motive, until suddenly she’s confronted with a compelling motive and a whole new collection of lies that bring her up against crooked ex-cop Joe Champi, who may not have killed himself after all.

Like all good defence attorneys, Jane makes it clear to Jacobson that she doesn’t need to believe in his innocence – she just needs to convince the 12 people on the jury of that.

Patterson seems to be absent from this collaboration, which reads a lot more like a Mike Lupica’s novel. The overstuffed plot never seems any more believable than Jane’s response to her worsening symptoms. But it’s hard not to sympathise with an overstressed lawyer who insists on performing herself daily, despite her failing health.

Fast-moving, the main case is intertwined with other cases to follow, giving a rounded perspective that there is more than one case going on at a time. These also add intrigue and more trepidation and texture to the book.

The second case on Jane’s docket was brought to her by a trusted colleague, Greg McCall, from Nassau County. It revolves around corruption, and exposing the truth will bring justice to a handful of innocent people who died tragically. Jimmy gets put on that case as well.

Jane now has a lot to take her mind off of her mortality. That is, until her mortality is threatened by something other than cancer.

Patterson throws a lot into this book as if ill-health and a massive case with extra dangers cranking up the tension, intrigue and poignancy isn’t enough, you also come across the cute factor in a stray dog, not that Jane’s looking for a dog, but it has chosen to enter her life.

When Ahearn puts up a witness who can place Jacobson with the 19-year-old woman who was one of his alleged victims, both drunk and amorous, at a bar, things do not look good. It gets even stickier when the witness heads off on his boat one day only to have the boat return without him. Even though Ahearn is positive that Jacobson had a hand in this disappearance, he won’t accept a mistrial and insists on taking the case to the end.

At this point, the situation really begins to spin out of control. Jimmy finds a note under his windshield wiper that threatens Jane directly. Shortly after that, someone takes a few shots at her while she is out enjoying her life in the Hamptons/Montauk area of eastern Long Island. Making matters even worse, Greg goes missing, leading Jimmy to believe that the threats toward Jane and himself may be coming as a result of that case and not Jacobson’s.

Either way, it sends the narrative down a continuing downward spiral where it appears that Jane may not make it to the end of her death sentence.

As the book, that’s full of intrigue, reaches its conclusion, you will discover an unexpected and fantastic ending.

Sebastian Lim is an experienced journalist and editor who now runs his own book review blog — The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of The Weekly-Echo.