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Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
The triple D’s – deceit, death, and double-cross – make for an engrossing read in Hedging Death, an exciting legal thriller written by Stacey Jernigan. Judge Avery Lassiter, a Texas federal judge, is presiding over a very messy and massive Ponzi scheme trial, allegedly spearheaded by a brilliant and well-connected scientist, Dmitry Basayev. Avery’s retired cop husband, Max, has been hired by Premier Mutual to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Cade Graham, a wealthy and equally well-connected hedge fund manager suspected of insurance fraud and faking his own death. Somewhat coincidentally – or not – the missing Graham had also funded Dmitry Basayev’s secret and controversial work. Although both men have disappeared, there are plenty of people looking for them, least of all the Mexican crime cartels that they double-crossed.
Legal thrillers are a dime a dozen. Some are mired down by too much legal-speak while others are weighed down by complicated narrative and characters that don’t engage much in the way of reader interest. Thankfully, Stacey Jernigan has given her readers an intelligent thriller. Although it has its share of dastardly villains, it’s what these so-called “bad guys” do and how they do it that makes for such an interesting read. After all, Ponzi schemes are hardly new, nor is the brutality of the Mexican crime cartels but when you mix these ingredients with selling insurance policies that prey on the elderly, suddenly Hedging Death rises head and shoulders above others in the legal thriller field. Jernigan’s got a nice mix of characters that lend both authenticity and color to her story, starting with her protagonist, the very approachable Avery Lassiter. Grounded and utterly likable, Avery tries to remain cool and level-headed, even when things begin to heat up around her. With a nice balance of narrative and dialogue, Hedging Death easily delivers a great story that will prove a real treat for all lovers of legal thrillers.