Lescroart has done it again, producing a novel which is just as much about character as it is about plot, and excelling on both fronts. Nothing But the Truth centers around the efforts of San Francisco former cop-turned-defense lawyer Dismas Hardy to ferret out the truth behind the murder of chemist and environmental activist Bree Beaumont, as a means to free his wife from jail, where she is sitting out days of contempt charges for refusing to reveal to a grand jury the secret confided by her friend, Beaumont’s husband Ron.
At first, Hardy can’t fathom why Fanny Hardy would accept jail in defense of Ron—who has taken his children and fled a police investigation into his wife’s murder—while leaving their own children motherless. And the more he probes, the more he fears the worst, that his wife was having an affair with Ron. Hardy’s emotions range from anger at Fanny’s suspected betrayal to fear of losing his beloved partner in life, to confused yearning for the uncomplicated existence of his single days, to guilt over his incompetence at fathering his children. His emotions make Hardy very human, and enable the reader to stand in his shoes as he tries to discover a way of balancing work and home life.
Lescroart’s skillful exploration of the stresses, and sometimes the lies, that can fester in a marriage extends into Hardy’s private investigation into the Beaumont murder, which in turn becomes increasingly complicated as he ties in the seemingly-unrelated murder of the cop investigating Beaumont’s death, the gubernatorial candidate for whom Beaumont worked before she was killed, and the money of big oil and environmental terrorism which lies behind the murder. In fact, while a powerfully-wrought personal journey, Nothing But the Truth is also a compelling expose of how both government and big business manipulate and exploit the very public they are supposed to represent.
The novel begins quite slowly, but begins to pick up speed as Lescroart has Hardy pull the strands of the plot together. There are a lot of suspects, a lot of motives, and the good guys are stymied by the belligerance of a District Attorney’s office which values political capital over the law. And even when the identity of the killer is revealed, Lescroart still has more to say. And it is all worth the hearing.