Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Book Review: "The Two Lila Bennetts" by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Given how many books I read, I always love finding one that takes the traditional narrative structure and tweaks it a bit. That's the case with Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke's new thriller, The Two Lila Bennetts, and it's definitely part of the book's appeal.

Lila Bennett is a successful criminal defense attorney. Are some of the clients she defends actually guilty of their crimes? Probably. She doesn't really want to know the answer to that question, but she knows everyone is entitled to a defense, so why shouldn't it be her providing it?

For a lawyer, Lila isn't the most upstanding person. She's definitely made some bad choices, especially in her personal life. She knows she's betrayed some of the people who are closest to her, who've trusted her more than anything, but she can't seem to stop herself. She feels remorse, she really does, but...no one's perfect.

But one night, everything changes—well, sort of. Her life suddenly splits into two. In one life, she is kidnapped, held hostage by someone who knows a lot about her, down to the wine she enjoys a glass or two (or three) of every night. Her captor holds her life in his hands, and demands she atone for her sins, righting her many wrongs. Or else. In the other life, she doesn't get kidnapped, but someone is methodically looking to destroy her, making public all of her misdeeds.

She has to figure out which one of the many people she's hurt and/or betrayed is trying to destroy her, or worse. Will examining her life lead her to be a better person, one who learns from her mistakes, or will she just slip back into her old habits? Does she even want to change? If she does, what does that mean for the life she leaves behind?

One of the strengths of The Two Lila Bennetts lies in the twists and turns that Fenton and Steinke have skillfully crafted, as well as the element of surprise, which explains my briefer-than-usual plot summary. The book alternates chapters between "Free" and "Captured," and the authors ratchet up the tension bit by bit, until you're just dying to figure everything out.

I had never read anything by Fenton and Steinke before, but I really like the way they tell a story, teasing out details little by little. If I struggled with anything, it was that I really didn't like Lila very much, so I had a hard time feeling sympathetic for the ordeals she was going through. But even with an unsympathetic character, the authors made sure I couldn't tear myself away from the book.

This was an addictive thriller that had me racing through to the finish. You'll find yourself hooked on Lila's story, and wondering how it's all going to end. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one wind up as a movie one day!

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