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Book Review - The Practice Of Deceit by Elizabeth Benedict

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I had the opportunity to explore a new author I hadn't read before...  Elizabeth Benedict.  She found me on Amazon and suggested I might be interested in her latest book, The Practice Of Deceit.  I picked up a copy at the library, and just finished it last night.  Very impressive...

Eric Lavender is a psychotherapist, visiting California to help clean up affairs after his father's death.  Before he heads back to New York to resume his life, he happens to meet Colleen Golden, an attorney, single mom, and survivor of a nasty divorce where the father left her while she was pregnant.  Eric falls for her hard, and ends up moving in with her.  To his surprise, fatherhood agrees with him.  She's quickly pregnant with their own child, and all seems to be wonderful...

But life is hardly ever all that it seems...

Eric gets a client who is having problems with his marriage.  After a couple of sessions, the wife files for divorce and kicks him out.  Eric finds out that the man's wife is represented in the divorce by his own wife, Colleen.  Ethics dictate that they both have to sever their associations, but Colleen is insistent that Eric drop his client but that she keeps hers.  The strain of this issue is the beginning of some eye-opening revelations for Eric.  He finds out that her prior divorce may not be exactly what she told him.  Her best-selling handbook for divorce, ghostwritten with a freelance writer, has a murky past that Colleen won't discuss.  And the divorce aspect of her business is a lot more substantial than she's let on.  When he starts digging in earnest to find answers, life comes crashing down.  The police show up at his door with an arrest warrant, charging him with sexually abusing his own child.  Eric has to clear his name and come to grips with the two different sides of his wife...

I found this book to be completely absorbing.  So often the legal arena is littered with "he said, she said", and the truth is nearly impossible to discern.  I don't think you could pay me enough to be a judge.  There's no doubt that accusations like this happen on a far too frequent basis, and the mere hint of sexual abuse on a minor, regardless of truth, indelibly marks the accused for life.  Benedict's writing is spot on, especially considering she's a woman writing a first-person novel from a guy's perspective.  Hard to pull off, and impressive when you do.  This is one of those recreational reads that, if it's not opening up old wounds, is a highly recommended read...

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