The brutal murder of sixteen-year-old Kelly Braden sends shock waves through a community—and an intellectually disabled man to jail. The only witness to Kelly’s murder is the five-year-old cousin she was babysitting. The young girl names their neighbor, Jack Osgood, as the bat-wielding criminal. Two decades later, Osgood faces execution.
Defense Attorney Dani Trumball and her partner, investigator Tommy Noorland, are summoned to the Georgia prison where Osgood is on death row. With no friends or family of his own, there is no one left to believe Jack didn’t kill Kelly but Dani and her Help Innocent Prisoners Project. With a mentally disabled son of her own, defending Osgood could be her most heartrending case yet.
While fighting a system that blocks her attempts to overturn his conviction, Dani must race to identify the real killer before Osgood’s time runs out—and the murderer strikes again.
Justice Delayed by Marti Green begins on the night that Kelly was murdered. The chapter ends with the arrest of Osgood. Twenty years later, Dani and her team decide to review Osgood’s case after receiving a letter from a guard at the jail where he is being held on death-row awaiting execution. His execution is only a few days away but the guard is convinced that the wrong man is about to be punished. Dani’s team decides to fight for him for two reasons. First,Osgood is mentally disabled and should not be executed as per the laws. Strangely, this did not form part of his defense in the initial trial and so Dani tries to find out why. Secondly, Dani and her team also believe that the wrong man is about to die for a crime that he didn’t commit. Right from the start, it’s a race against time to try and stop the execution and also find out the truth about Kelly’s murder.
The story is narrated through alternating POVs although Dani is the main narrator. Tommy who is the investigator in Dani’s team also narrates a few chapters. In between these narrations, there is a third voice that gives details about what really happened in 1994. This is the voice of the killer. The three narrations made this a very suspenseful read.
Dani was the lawyer filing motions, attending hearings and representing Osgood in court. I really liked the fact that author crafted her character in such a realistic manner. On one hand, she is a passionate lawyer fighting for justice. On the other hand, she is a mother of two with an adoring husband. I liked all sides of Dani. Tommy is the investigator in the story. Like Dani, we get to learn about his professional and personal life. At work, he gets the answers through all means necessary. On the other hand, he is a doting husband and father. The villain in this book is so dark and twisted but as always, these darker narrations heightened the tension in the book and were interesting to read.
I couldn’t predict the twists or even guess the identity of the killer until the reveal. I kept wondering if it was Osgood or someone else. The killer was sadistic, the kind that gets satisfaction from taking life and enjoys their victim’s fear. Could it be that Osgood, the quiet, seemingly gentle man is the real villain or is someone else waiting for him to take the fall for crimes that he didn’t commit? These are the questions that were running through my mind as I read the book. In addition, I was so nervous about the execution. I didn’t want Osgood to be executed in case he had been wrongfully convicted. This book had me at the edge of the seat until the final page.
Justice Delayed by Marti Green is a well written legal thriller with memorable, masterfully crafted characters. I enjoyed the legal aspects just as much as the thriller side of the book. The discussions about evidence were fascinating. In particular, the killer in this book used to bite the victims. It was interesting to see how different experts argued for or against the methods of matching bite marks on a victim to a suspect especially if there is no saliva for DNA analysis. Interestingly, this is an ongoing debate (outside the book) so I liked the fact that the author included this in the narrative. I also liked the minor cases within the main story whereby DNA was used to overturn wrongful convictions and solve cold cases especially those that occurred before the introduction of DNA testing in investigations. The thriller aspect is also quite interesting because it was so hard to guess the identity of the murderer. Was it Osgood or someone else? In addition, the suspense intensified when other murders similar to Karen’s were discovered.
This is a dark, twisty legal thriller that I would recommend to all fans of this genre. I have just found out that there are other four books by Marti Green featuring the Help Innocent Prisoners Project. I can’t wait to read all of them now.