Author Jerry Banks, a former trial lawyer, knows his legalities and knows Oregon. In Secret Agenda he’s crafted a thrilling tale of how a strange new cult tries to carve a strange new county out of deserted farms and run-down towns. Portland lawyer Barry O’Shea, well-known in the community for his investigative skills and legal prowess, becomes involved when newcomers vote out all incumbents in an election and proceed to buy or drive everyone else out of town. It would be nice to think these things can’t happen, but the author makes them sound all too plausible, building legal precedent and argument into a convincing, scary whole. The newcomers rebuild business and tourism, turn ghost towns into resorts, run saw-mills and river-rafts, and generally seem to do good, except for the guns they carry and the way, somehow, it’s always them, not old-timers, who gain the benefit. Then there’s the highway that turns into a toll road, and it’s time to act. The law, in Jerry Banks’ hands, is a powerful tool carefully wielded by honorable men. The story keeps the reader glued to the page, wondering just how justice will ever be done. And if the writing’s a little obscure at times, well, he is writing about lawyers. The odd change of tense is easily excused in a story as tense as this, and the resolution, though it may seem a little too easy, is nicely done, rounding out the tale in a very satisfying way. Oregon has known its cults in the past, which may have provided inspiration for this tale, set in the 1980s. But the story’s new and refreshing, giving an intriguing look at the law and lawyers and the business of doing good.
Disclosure: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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Barry O’Shea has solved a lot of mysteries and has done his fair share to stop the bad guys. A fact he’s real proud of. But, Shabdrung, an Indian mystic and the leader of the Nagawangeesh cult, may put an end to O’Shea’s sterling record. It seems, at least to O’Shea, that Shabdrung has a secret agenda: To systematically take over Sherman County so he can establish a foothold in United States. Some think O’Shea’s crazy, others think he knows too much.