The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 24, 2011

Phyllis Seesengood, book review: Author packs law, politics into thriller

By Phyllis Seesengood
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — “Breach of Trust”

By David Ellis

(compact disc audiobook)


David Ellis brings back his character Jason Kolarich, a former college football player and now a criminal defense attorney in a high-profile private law firm. Jason first appeared in “The Hidden Man,” published in 2009.

The character’s future seems assured. His courtroom strategy was the key in getting state Sen. Hector Almundo acquitted of charges of corruption, bribery, extortion and conspiracy to commit murder in a high-profile case.

In doing so, he made an enemy of Chris Moody, the ambitious government prosecutor for the state. However, something goes horribly wrong at the end of the trial.

Jason waits in his office for an important phone call from his informant, former Latin drug lord Ernesto Ramirez, who still has ties to a Latin street gang. Jason and his wife, Talia, have a trip planned for the weekend. However, Jason stays at the office so late that Talia takes their baby and starts the drive to her parents’ house.

Instead of a call from Ernesto, he receives a call informing him of a terrible accident. The car his wife was driving had skidded off the slippery road and crashed, killing his wife and baby.

Jason, devastated by their deaths, believes that if he had been driving that night that they would still be alive. Nothing matters to him anymore Ñ neither his work nor himself Ñ at least not until he discovers that his informant was murdered the same night as his family was killed.

Was that just a coincidence? Jason doesn’t think so. Ernesto’s widow approaches Jason to find the murderer of her husband and he accepts, given that he feels responsible for Ernesto’s death and for the deaths of his wife and child.

Jason begins his own investigation into the murder of Ernesto Ramirez, willing to do whatever it takes to find his killer. He tries to ingratiate himself with the friends and political associates of Hector Almundo.

His zealous commitment to getting the goods on corrupt politicians, while trying to clear a murder suspect, lands him in the middle of an FBI investigation of dirty politicians leading all the way to the governor’s office.

Because Jason can’t prove that he was innocently pretending to work for these people, he is threatened with possible corruption charges unless he cooperates with the FBI in their probe. He is coerced into becoming an undercover informant for the FBI and wearing a wire when he is with Almundo, Gov. Snow and their associates.

All goes well for Jason until the bad guys get suspicious and he has to think and act fast in some tense situations, including attempts on his life. Chris Moody, the lead investigator and federal prosecutor whom Jason defeated in court, is looking for ways to get even with Jason and would like nothing more than to prove that Jason is dirty, too.

Caught between crooked politicians and the government’s investigation, Jason must find the truth in order to stay alive and out of jail.

“Breach of Trust” is an absorbing psychological legal thriller with a fast-paced, believable plot and interesting characters.

The author, David Ellis, is also a lawyer who knows his subject matter, so you get both a bit of an education in the world of law and politics along with a well-written entertaining thriller. As a lawyer, he prosecuted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in his impeachment trial.

Luke Daniels, the narrator, does an excellent job with the story and the characters.



Phyllis Seesengood is the technical services librarian at Joplin Public Library.