Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Review: Tragic By Robert K. Tanenbaum

Once again we enter the world of the Karp-Caimpi brood just in time for a no holds bar good old fashioned legal thriller in Robert Tanenbaum's latest  Tragic. Our protagonist Butch Karp, the present Manhattan District Attorney, becomes embroiled with a host of characters straight off of New York City's streets; the homeless, stevedores, unions, the Russian mob, and the average guy who simply makes all the wrong decisions at all the wrong times. Into this mix his wife, Marlene Ciampi, former ADA, now legal eagle and champion of abused women, cross paths within the court system with accomplices, girlfriends, orphaned babies while channeling lady justice.

If you have been reading Mr. Tanenbaum's series you know that the Karp-Ciampi family is made up of not only these highly accomplished parents, but of a daughter Lucy. She has a unique gift at foreign languages, which would have enabled a life of power, influence and secret machinations. But Lucy has chosen a simple life with her cowboy fiancee out in the old west. Of course, that never stops trouble from coming Lucy's way and as in every good western, there is her handsome wrangler out there to save the day. Along the way as well, Lucy has befriended the homeless and the misbegotten, who live on New York City's meanest streets. She is their champion and they are her eyes, ears and at times the Karp-Ciampi family's saving grace.

Then there are the twin Karp-Ciampi boys. Typical hellions, and the apple of their parent's eyes. Pushing their boundaries and their parents sanity. Butch Karp is not necessarily going gray because of the death threats, City politics or running one of the largest district attorney offices in the country. He is going gray all because of his adolescent sons and their shenanigans.

OK yes Butch's wife Marlene Ciampi's  in her search to right wrongs has also added a few gray hairs to Butch's temples as well. Think of her as Wonder Woman meets a female BatMan/Superman and you have a wild mix of danger, headlines and really good homemade marinara sauce. There is something about never crossing a really determined woman of Italian extraction. Seriously, it is nice to read stories where you care what happens to the characters from book to book to book.

Now in the latest edition to the Karp-Ciampi family adventures we find the District Attorney embroiled in a union power struggle, which ends up with an assassination, of course. It is a story about ethics wining over greed. It is right from wrong and accepting punishment for your crimes. It is the story of Macbeth where the witches of evil turn good, the concept of honor is personified and the mysteries of Birnam Wood will out. It is the haunted and the hunted made to realize that in every tragedy there can be justice if we simply invoke that which is most human in all of us, our conscience.

The trial scenes are Mr. Tanenbaum's forte. You hang on the legal jargon and the maneuvers both by the defense and by the prosecution. You try to figure out where the story is headed. Then suddenly there are twists and turns that make every trial interesting and unexpected. It will keep you guessing what the next zig to the zag will be and how the hero district attorney will counter the sleazy defense attorney so right can ultimately win out.

For those who have not read this series, you can read this book as a stand alone story. There is no need to understand the intricate relationships of the characters. There will be passing reference to persons who have come before, but it is not essential to know the personal interplay to enjoy the story this time. The Karp-Ciampi family as a whole really do not play a big part in the underlying tale during this novel. However, I would recommend at another moment to begin at the beginning. Go back to the start of the series and grow with the characters. See how they get to where they are emotionally, spiritually and inter-personally. For every person is a sum of their whole. No person is simply who they are at any given time without understanding where they have been and where they want to go,  especially really well written fictional characters.


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