Reyna Marder Gentin
She Writes Press (2018)
Reviewed by Jennifer Wilson for Reader Views (10/18)
“Unreasonable Doubts” is an intelligently written novel by Reyna Marder Gentin that somewhat chronicles a year in the life of New York City public defender Liana Cohen as she endeavors to find true meaning in work, relationships, and self.
What I thought would be a stereo-typical “lawyer novel” was more in-depth regarding the life and relationships of the lead character Liana Cohen. The focus of the novel wasn’t only the court case of Jennifer Nash vs Daniel Shea, although important. As the novel opens we meet Liana at a time in her life when she is pushing thirty and strongly questioning her place in the world, trying to mesh faith, work, and love.
Liana is an Ivy League graduate with a handsome and successful boyfriend, Jakob, an apartment in an upscale neighborhood, and by everyone’s standards, a great job. However, her discontent is evident, at least to her co-workers. To spend one’s life essentially looking for ways to help criminals win their appeals is no longer appealing to Liana. She has lost the hope of finding and helping that one truly innocent client and making a tangible difference in the life of someone let down by the “system.”
When it looks like making her quota is an impossibility, Liana’s friend and co-worker Deb hands her the case that may just change everything. Daniel Shea is not your ordinary criminal and his case proves to be anything but routine. He is articulate, intelligent, engaging, and, not least of all, Calvin Klein-model gorgeous. A combination that does not pair well with Liana’s already present disillusionment. Liana decides to throw everything she has into this case in the hopes that Danny Shea is the one true innocent in a sea of guilty clients.
Will this case be the game-changer she hopes? As she researches for the upcoming appeal, learns of a dear friend’s illness and tries to figure out where exactly she fits into Jakob’s completely packed schedule, we see Liana struggle with what most of us face as we get older and our lives change. Growing up is hard, plain and simple. Learning whom to trust is hard. Figuring out whom you should not trust, is exceptionally hard.
“Unreasonable Doubts” by Reyna Marder Gentin has some truly fantastic elements. The writing is great, and the characters flow well with the story. I would have loved a little more history on the character of Daniel Shea, however I can see why the author chose to leave some mystery there. There is something in this story for everyone, and if you are like I was, the ending is going to be worth the wait.