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Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
The Advocate’s Dilemma is the fourth entertaining installment of The Advocate series by Teresa Burrell. Burrell’s main protagonist, Sabre Brown, is a dedicated child advocate attorney whose beat revolves around the San Diego Superior Court, Juvenile Division. At thirty-one, she’s both mother hen and fierce defender of her young abused and neglected wards, speaking for and defending them against their worst enemies that are sadly, in most cases, their own parents. Sabre’s hectic work life is suddenly thrown off kilter when she walks into her office and finds a man’s murdered body sprawled across her desk. She calls her best friend and fellow attorney, Bob, who identifies the body as that of George Foreman, his client in the juvenile dependency case where Sabre represents Foreman’s neglected children, Riley and Marcus. With Bob one of the few people with a set of keys to her office, he’s suddenly the prime suspect in the police’s subsequent investigation. A shaken Sabre immediately puts her other good friend, JP, an investigator who rounds out their closely-knit triumvirate, on the case but the three quickly discover that things aren’t exactly as they seem.
By all accounts, the deceased and his wife, Dana, were addicts who had used their children to extort money from her parents for cash. Both boys are currently living with Dana’s parents, the wealthy Frank and Celia Davis. However, it soon becomes apparent when JP interviews Frank and Celia Davis that their take on the events as they occurred aren’t the same. Things get even more complicated when one of the boys, Marcus, is taken to the psych ward after attacking his grandmother one morning while muttering, “I know.” Sabre suspects that the young boy knows far more about his father’s death than he’s telling and with her friend, Bob, as the unlikely suspect in the father’s murder, they both need her help. The only problem is, how can Sabre help both of them without betraying her young charge?
No two ways about it – The Advocate’s Dilemma deals with some tough subject matter. Abused and neglected children are not easy pills to swallow for any reader. Burrell knows this and treats the subject matter with both compassion and sensitivity. Her prose is light, the dialogue crisp and there’s a thread of humor throughout the story, which makes it an entertaining read rather than one that’s bogged down by its depressing subject matter. However, what really sells the story is the wonderful relationship between Sabre and her protagonist co-stars, Bob and JP. The sense of camaraderie, trust and friendship between these three characters highlights a well-executed plot. Burrell’s first-hand knowledge of the intricacies of the juvenile court system, thanks to her years as an attorney representing abused minors and juvenile delinquents, gives The Advocate’s Dilemma that extra stamp of authenticity, making it all the more engaging. A terrific read from start to finish.