Book Review: Destiny’s Anvil, a new Legal Thriller by Steven Wells Hicks

The Bottom Line: A sensational legal thriller guaranteed to resonate with fans of Scott Pratt and John Grisham. Set in the deliciously seedy world of crooked southern politics and murder, Destiny’s Anvil is a tautly plotted page-turner that works on every level.
Destiny’s Anvil opens 15 minutes prior to a scheduled execution at Louisiana’s infamous Angola prison. Told from the perspective of 26-year-old reluctant observer Carter Callahan, the ensuing electric chair scene effectively raises the story’s emotional stakes, while telling us enough about Carter to render him instantly likable.

Physical carnage isn’t the only ugly thing Carter is privy to. Carter’s brother, Tucker, is a renowned political strategist who forms an alliance with slippery attorney general Will Guidry. As we soon learn, Guidry is a far cry from the image as a man of justice that he has so carefully manufactured, and while we experience the story through Carter’s eyes, it’s the relationship between Tucker and Guidry that is at the heart of the story.

It’s hard to imagine how New Orleans novelist Steven Wells Hicks could have written his native state more authentically. The sweet humidity practically oozes from the pages. The Callahan brothers hang out at drinking holes like One Eyed Jacques, where good old boys shoot pool, truck-driving tattooed barmaids pour tall ones, and Sherriff Fontenot hand-delivers court summons.

In a world where everyone has dark secrets, it’s clear early on that Guidry’s are bound to come back to haunt him. It’s also inevitable that Carter will get drawn into his brother’s melee. Nevertheless, the journey is thoroughly engrossing, as Tucker Callahan has a few tricks up his sleeve that will delight fans of courtroom drama.

Attention studio heads: Matthew McConaughey will make a fantastic Tucker Callahan.

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