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The Bottom Line: A ripped-from-the-headlines legal thriller that John Grisham fans will love. — best


Conspiracy theories about the untimely death of a Supreme Court justice draw attention to the West Texas dude ranch where he died. When attorney Vance Courage and his business partner Lauren Gold purchase the ranch to launder a large sum of dirty money, they soon discover that the rumors may be warranted. 


The ranch’s previous owner was a highly decorated U.S. Army Captain who, before his death, was locked in a not-so-secret campaign to use the legal system to curb the power of the world’s five largest technology companies. And not long after Vance and Lauren’s arrival at the ranch, another suspicious death is reported. This time, the victim is the ranch’s longtime head of housekeeping, who was certainly the killer’s loose end. 


As the duo launch an investigation, they discover that the property is routinely used by some of the world’s most powerful lawmakers and titans of industry. The question isn’t so much who had a motive for murder, but who didn’t? 


Strictly speaking, Killer Deal isn’t a traditional legal thriller. After all, Vance may be an attorney (and former detective), but he’s also a money launderer. Even so, the book’s thoroughly satisfying exploration of how corporations attempt to use the courts as a business strategy is meaty enough to warrant admiration from fans of John Grisham and Scott Pratt. In addition, readers may recall that real-life justice Antonin Scalia also died at a West Texas dude ranch, and those following the story will relish the opportunity to help solve this alternate universe version of events.


As a whodunnit, author Karen S. Gordon succeeds wildly, delivering a whopper of a surprise in the book’s third act that few readers will see coming. Along the way, Vance and Lauren’s (mostly platonic) chemistry is enjoyable, although readers may want to check out the first Gold & Courage series book for the detailed lowdown on how they ended up as partners. With that said, the book works well as a stand-alone. Highly recommended. 

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