PRAISE FOR MARGARET MCLEAN'S UNDER FIRE
"Although not dissimilar to other courtroom books, in Under Fire it is the trial itself that lifts it above the norm. First time author McLean, herself a criminal prosecutor, knows her law, and, more importantly, how to tell a story. During the trial scenes she centers attention on the jurors and interprets events through them rather than the lawyers. The ebb and flow of the trial is registered mostly through their eyes, each with a separate perspective and each with a firm opinion. The jury’s decision after days of deliberation is surprising, but logical. For a new author, McLean writes like an old pro. She knows Boston; her story is as up-to-date and topical as today’s headlines. This debut effort bodes well for what promises to be a winning career for the author and for Sarah Lynch and her bow tie-wearing Uncle Buddy."
-Bob Smith, writing for Mystery Scene Magazine
"Senegalese immigrant Amina Diallo and her 15-year-old son live in Boston above her small African grocery store and lunch spot. What started as a typical immigrant-makes-good-in-America story takes a turn for the ugly when Amina's husband is deported and her home and business face foreclosure. Then the building goes up in flames, trapping Amina and her son upstairs. Firefighters passing by stop, and one of them is shot and killed while trying to save the Diallo family. Amina is arrested and charged with arson and murder. Former prosecutor Sarah Lynch is talked into working with her defense lawyer uncle Buddy, but Amina is Muslim and wears the traditional hijab, making her an easy target for racial profiling. The Boston fire department turns out in droves for the funeral and the trial, and Sarah has her hands full, not to mention that her life is in danger. VERDICT This fast-paced debut legal thriller by a former criminal prosecutor offers an interesting immigrant twist. It should appeal to Richard North Patterson fans."
- Stacey Alesi, writing for Library Journal
"McLean's first novel takes the reader on a terrific journey through the machinations of Boston law. Amina Diallo, a Senegalese immigrant, owns a store and lives above it with her son, Malick. One night their entire lives change when her building catches fire, and the fireman who rescues them dies in the process. Later, it's discovered he didn't die from the aftereffects of the fire but from a gunshot wound. Amina is immediately taken into custody, and the trial of the century ensues. With the entire community convinced of Amina's guilt, even though she adamantly claims her innocence, it's going to be a tough sell for her attorneys, the unorthodox Buddy Clancy and his reluctant assistant, Sarah Lynch. Under Fire is a compelling legal thriller with vivid characters, a realistic feel to the proceedings, and a case that ignites our interest practically on the first page. McLean, a law professor and former criminal prosecutor, knows her stuff and, even better, knows how to translate it to fiction."
- Jeff Ayers, American Library Association's Booklist magazine
"On your shelf of legal thrillers, move the Grishams aside and make room for Margaret McLean. She's got all the knowledge of an insider and-more Important-all the skills of a great storyteller. She'll take you into the offices and the holding cells and the courtrooms, and you'll believe every detail and nuance. Then she'll start to heighten and tighten and twist and turn, and you won't he able to put the book down."
- William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of City of Dreams
“Under Fire” is a legal thriller about a Senegalese immigrant charged with setting fire to her own store and shooting the Boston firefighter who tries to save her and her teenage son. It’s authentic and compelling, a reflection of McLean’s skill as a writer and her years as an assistant district attorney for Essex County, where she prosecuted cases of arson, armed assault, and other crimes in a Lawrence court.
In “Under Fire,” her heroine is a smart, athletic defense attorney who reluctantly takes on the case, overcoming her own prejudices to dedicate herself to justice for the accused. McLean takes the reader into the tense drama of the courtroom, as police, fire investigators, gun experts, lawyers and others reveal their perception of the tragedy. She offers the reader insights into everyone’s point of view, an orientation she developed when she tried cases in Lawrence."
-Jody Feinberg, writing for The Patriot Ledger
"Under Fire is a riveting read. I know the word "riveting" is hackneyed. Maybe I should say sticky, because I couldn't put it down. I was up till two a.m. this morning finishing it."
- Lucia St. Clair Robson, New York Times bestselling author of Last Train from Cuernavaea
"Under Fire is the real deal. . .an authentic, fast-paced, and suspenseful read."
- Barbara D'Amato, Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of Foolproof
"Sarah Lynch is a perfectly appealing protagonist: flawed and focused, wounded and wise, tough and tender, too. And in Margaret McLean's quick-paced Under Fire, Sarah shines bright."
- Reed Farrell Coleman, three-time Shamus Award-winning author of Innocent Monster
"Passionate, believable, well-written - don't miss this riveting debut. I love finding new authors, and, Margaret McLean is right up there with favorites John Lescroat and Linda Fairstein."
- Brenda Novak, New York Times bestselling author of Inside
"Under Fire is a thrilling courtroom drama on a subject drawn straight from the headlines with a smart, appealing heroine."
- Mary Pat Kelly, bestselling author of Galway Bay
"I loved this book and am looking forward to more from Margaret McLean. I hope Sarah and Uncle Buddy become part of a series."
-Violette Severin, writing for The Mystery Bookshelf
"The plot is plausible and the writing easy going. The character of Buddy Clancy definitely steals the show or the trial scene anyway. He is in command at all times with witty quips and humor that often has him on the hot seat with Judge Killian. Nothing seems to phase the patient Buddy, and he is the antithesis of his aggressive and impatient niece Sarah. They make for a near perfect legal team and in my opinion the drama of the court trial is the most exciting. At the end, the author leaves room for what you think will be a sequel or series.
If you like trial quick paced puzzling criminal fiction, UNDER FIRE will deliver sharp trial banter. Margaret McLean’s background is a huge benefit as she expresses her story with authenticity. UNDER OATH, her second novel is due out in April 2012, fortunately with the same amusing character Buddy Clancy and his dog Rehnquist "
-Wisteria, writing for Bookworm's Dinner
"McLean spins a suspenseful and complex web that will keep readers guessing. However, when all is said and done, she also provides a tutorial, of sorts, into the workings of the law and the tactics lawyers employ in cross-examining witnesses.
The story doesn’t bog down at any point, and holds a wide appeal as it sweeps readers along, giving them several social and moral questions to ponder.
In “Under Fire,” McLean opens a window on another world. This is a book that doesn’t disappoint.
Paul Collins, writing for the Nashua Telegraph
"Readers of my blog know I don't review too many thrillers/trial fiction. I have read many of John Grisham's and Scott Turow's legal dramas with enthusiasm. I was really interested in reading and reviewing UNDER FIRE for two reasons, one, the author is female and two, Margaret McLean was a practicing criminal prosecutor and currently teaches law. I'm glad I followed my sixth sense on this one because I read it in one day recently when the heat index was over 110 degrees. Talk about being under fire.
Amina Diallo is a Muslim Senegalese immigrant accused of burning down her home and market business. During an attempt to save her and her fifteen year old son Malick, a Boston firefighter is shot and killed. The last person who saw the victim alive is his partner Andy who recalls seeing Amina pointing a gun. Amina is charged with murder and arson. Her case causes high profile attention and rapidly instills anger and hostility toward the accused. The murder of a firefighter in the line of duty has already pronounced her guilty in the eyes of the world.
Amina has retained Buddy Clancy, her somewhat eccentrically quirky, laid-back and seasoned defense lawyer. He has an affinity for colorful often purposeful bow-ties and he and his dog Rehnquist always wear a matched pair. Buddy's niece Sarah Lynch was a prosecuting attorney fighting the gangs. When tragedy impedes her ability to continue, she focuses on playing hockey, giving up law. When her uncle Buddy ropes Sarah into agreeing to meet with Amina, just to talk, Sarah is reluctant. During the meeting, she learns something interesting about Amina, and suddenly realizes she believes in her innocence. Sarah agrees to work with her uncle on the defense side of the court.
The plot is plausible and the writing easy going. The character of Buddy Clancy definitely steals the show or the trial scene anyway. He is in command at all times with witty quips and humor that often has him on the hot seat with Judge Killian. Nothing seems to phase the patient Buddy, and he is the antithesis of his aggressive and impatient niece Sarah. They make for a near perfect legal team and in my opinion the drama of the court trial is the most exciting. At the end, the author leaves room for what you think will be a sequel or series.
If you like trial quick paced puzzling criminal fiction, UNDER FIRE will deliver sharp trial banter. Margaret McLean's background is a huge benefit as she expresses her story with authenticity. UNDER OATH, her second novel is due out in April 2012, fortunately with the same amusing character Buddy Clancy and his dog Rehnquist.
- Bookworm's Dinner Review by Wisteria