120 Days


Fiction - Crime
327 Pages
Reviewed on 06/05/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Ronald L. Ruiz's 120 Days is a crime thriller that revolves around a brilliant California attorney named Barbara Blake, who is on a meteoric rise as a public defender, with rapid promotions and lucrative job offers that could set her financially for life. Her professional and personal life are, however, at polar opposites to one another, the latter showcasing two failed marriages and enough backstory to overwhelm even the thickest case file. Of course, the thickest case file belongs to a new client named Alejandro Soto, a double-lifer now facing the death penalty. She caught his attention with a courtroom stare, after which he fervently sought her out to represent him. With his life hanging in the balance, Blake's own professional and personal life converge over the course of 120 Days.

Ronald L.Ruiz definitely knows how to write a legal thriller. Blake and Soto are phenomenal characters who, through subtle action on her part and gritty interaction on his, come alive within the first two chapters. This book is impossible to put down. This truly is a character-driven story with the added bonus of a plot that could, without question, stand on its own two legs. The aspects of prison life and courtroom drama feel authentic and exciting, but the personal relationship that develops takes this novel to a five-star level. There is a human element here that is only found in top-tiered crime fiction, and this book is filled with it. I adore all of the major bestselling authors of this genre and have finally found a new favorite that, in my opinion, belongs in the same league. A truly brilliant novel. An exceptional writer. Highly recommended.

Divine Zape

Ronald L. Ruiz 's 120 Days is a crime thriller with powerful psychological underpinnings. A young, ambitious and beautiful defense attorney, Barbara Blake, takes on a difficult and complicated case. Alejandro Soto is an inmate serving two life sentences for the murder of a drug dealer and the man’s mother. Now he is on trial for a murder he claims he never committed, one that could earn him the death penalty. Will Blake prove his innocence in the next 120 days? What follows after they meet at the courtroom in San Cristobal, California, is a story that takes them beyond the courtroom into the inner recesses of their hearts and deep, oftentimes dark longings, an exploration of the American justice system and the prejudices that pollute it.

Ronald L. Ruiz is a great storyteller, a writer who combines courtroom drama with the art of storytelling to keep readers on the edge of their seats. The narrative begins in the courtroom and the drama is intense with intelligently crafted interrogations that introduce readers to the key characters and the conflict. While Alejandro is a criminal, the reader can’t help developing compassion for him, thanks to the author's gift of infusing the characters with humanity. The relationship between Barbara Blake and her client takes the story beyond the contractual level, probing the hearts of the characters and exploring those feelings and sentiments that are intimately linked to our humanity. Ruiz 's 120 Days captures details in a brilliant way without losing focus on the critical elements of the story. The social commentaries combine with the sophistication of the setting — social and judicial — and the complexity of the conflict to offer a reading experience that is gripping and utterly enjoyable. You will be racing through the pages, wanting to know how the story ends.

K.C. Finn

The title 120 Days is a work of crime and dramatic fiction penned by author Ronald L. Ruiz. Set in the style of a courtroom drama, the plot follows an ambitious young woman by the name of Barbara Blake, who is a defense attorney with dreams of being the best there is. Her new client, Alejandro Soto, has already been convicted of a double homicide, but the third murder trial he’s being put through could be the end of his life, and he insists that he didn’t commit it. When Barbara gets involved in the case, the 120 days of her journey with Alejandro is one which will change both their lives as they explore the darkest underbelly of the criminal justice system together.

Written for adults due to its dark themes and some graphic content, the tangled lives of Barbara Blake and Alejandro Soto will keep you enthralled from the very first page through to the bitter end of their intriguing and deeply dramatic journey. Author Ronald L. Ruiz makes some interesting and astute commentaries on the flaws and pitfalls of the American criminal justice system as the story progresses, and the details of the courtroom come to life in what is clearly a well-researched and critical adaptation from real-life procedures. Something that really grabbed me was the depth of character development in Alejandro, a flawed soul whom we might feel predisposed to dislike, and it’s these unique moments of turning prejudice on its head that make 120 Days such a special read.

Christian Sia

Ronald L. Ruiz's 120 Days is a legal thriller with surprising twists and turns. Barbara Blake is an up-and-coming, young and beautiful defense attorney who takes on the complicated case of Alejandro Soto. Alejandro is already serving two life sentences for the murder of Sanchez and his mother. He is on trial for another murder, one he claims he didn’t commit. The relationship between Blake and Soto will develop as she pursues his defense and will change a lot in both their lives.

The story opens dramatically in the courtroom and Ronald L. Ruiz sets the pace for the drama that permeates this narrative. The characters are sophisticated and emotionally rich and readers will want to see how the connection between Soto and his lawyer plays out. The story has great emotional depth and reality, including the difficult conditions of Mexican immigrants captured with finesse and commentaries that elicit emotion in readers. I enjoyed the detailed and focused descriptions of scenes, especially the step-by-step description by Soto of the murder, calculated and vindictive. “I went down the hall to the front-room door. There he was sprawled out on his back on his favorite red couch—a couch that had witnessed so many of his pleasures. His gun was on a lamp table less than a foot from his right hand. I could have shot him from the doorway. I thought about it and thought about it.” Ronald L. Ruiz's 120 Days is a great read that demonstrates the author’s gift for both plot and character, a narration that touches powerful emotions in readers. It was a riveting and engrossing read for me.

Maria Beltran

Ronald L. Ruiz's 120 Days is a highly interesting and controversial crime fiction novel that is very difficult to put down. A promising young lawyer, twice married, smart and beautiful Barbara Blake is not so lucky in love. She has, however, a successful law practice and things seem to be fine until she is asked to help defend Alejandro Soto, who is already serving two life sentences at the notorious Secured Housing Unit (SHU) in Arroyo Grande. On trial for a third murder case, Soto can be sentenced to death. And in a twist of fate, their paths crossed. What follows is a unique love story that ultimately spirals into a matter of life and death.

Author Ronald L. Ruiz practiced law from 1966 to 2003 for the state of California and his novel 120 Days gives readers a glimpse of this colorful world. The story unravels in a courtroom where lawyer Barbara Blake is expertly defending a client and this is perhaps the best way to introduce her, without so much as talking about her childhood and other credentials. Soto, the other protagonist, comes from a different side of the aisle and surprisingly comes across as a sensitive and sympathetic human being. This is because Ruiz is a great storyteller and he has a unique eye for details. His 120 Days is a social commentary on the American justice system and society as a whole, told from a vantage point with a generous dose of empathy so it becomes easy to feel for Barbara Blake and Alejandro Soto, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, so to speak.