Act of God begins with a sickening crime. Someone has bombed the Seattle Family Services Center, commonly known as the Hill House. Nearly 200 people inside perished, many of them children.
Hill House was a complete medical facility that provided a broad range of women's services including infertility issues, gynecology, obstetrics and pregnancy termination. Could that be the reason the building was targeted?
The people of Seattle want answers and a nation stands divided over the tragedy and its moral implications. Authorities arrest a suspect named Corey Dean Latham. He's a kind-hearted naval officer that doesn't meet the terrorist profile, yet he's facing the death penalty.
Attorney Dana McAuliffe of the prestigious Cotter Boland and Grace law firm is chosen to represent young Latham. From her first meeting with the suspect, she feels in her heart that he did not commit the crime. Based on her instinct and a desire for justice, she sets out to attempt the impossible: a not guilty verdict in the nation's most riveting case.
Dana is confident she can successfully represent her client. She has the support of her superiors, her husband and her best friend. Little does she know her past will return to haunt her.
Act of God chronicles the trial's progression and its implications. Author Susan Sloan peers into the minds of a handful of jurors without revealing their intentions too early in the novel. Readers are aware of others' attempts to sabotage the case. These actions provide plenty of drama, providing plenty of mystery around the final verdict.
Sloan peppers her tale with several sub-plots. She names and characterizes several bombing victims, adding emotion to the tale yet forcing readers to remember the details of several extra characters. These pages are better devoted to the events leading up to the case. There is minimal explanation as to why Corey is even a suspect making it hard for readers to put their sympathy in the defendant's camp.
There are many things that can go wrong in the course of a major trial, and Sloan strives to address them all. The result is lots of extraneous mini-stories. Featuring just a couple of stunning developments would have streamlined the tale and doubled the drama.
As it stands, Act of God is a decent legal thriller. The book will hold your interest from the first page to the last. Attorney Dana McAullife is similar to the gutsy Nina Reilly character created by Perri O'Shaughnessy. The abortion debate woven in the trial fans the flames of controversy and adds good drama to the tale. This Sloan novel has a stunning James Patterson-type ending so refrain from glancing at the last page. A little no-peeking discipline on your part will ensure a satisfying reading experience with a surprise twist and a final treat.