Book Review: Critical Reaction

5 Jan

210154When a Warning Siren Screams in the Desert Night,
the Worst Has Happened

After turning out plutonium for the Cold War, the shuttered Hanford Nuclear Facility’s poisoned buildings may be a bigger risk than ever. The men who guard the facility from sabotage or monitor its buildings are told the dangers are under control. But then the worst happens–a thunderous explosion in the dead of night.

Kieran Mullaney survived the blast, but when threats and silence meet his attempts to discover what really happened, he reconnects with an old friend–inexperienced lawyer Emily Hart. Convinced Hanford is hiding something, they also realize their case is sunk without more help.

Emily’s estranged father, Ryan, has the courtroom experience they need, but he’s grown jaded and weary of the profession. Still, it’s a chance to rebuild ties to Emily, and the deeper he digs, the stranger–and more dangerous–the case gets.


14de351636d085353b7c693b2bb4e121_f45Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. Todd’s career experience blends with his passion for writing in his novels published through Bethany House.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as an adjunct professor of International Law, and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong.

The Deposit Slip, Mr. Johnson’s first novel, debuted in 2012.

Todd lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife Cathy and children Ian and Libby.


My Impressions:

Critical Reaction by Todd Johnson had been languishing on my shelf for far too long. I loved his debut novel, The Deposit Slip (read review HERE) and was anxious to read book 2. But life gets busy and other book review deadlines seem to push some books to the bottom of the TBR pile. But a long road trip during the New Year’s holiday allowed me to finally pick this title up. I had to put it down with just 7 pages to read when my turn at driving came around (just as the action had hit its peak!). By the time I was back in the passenger seat, it was dark. So the flashlight app on my phone allowed me to get to the end. Yeah! Critical Reaction is a great novel for fans of legal suspense.

There’s been an accident at the defunct Hanford Nuclear site and a huge cover-up is under way. Kieran survived the accident and wants some answers. But the lawsuit he has filed looks like a long shot in the company town of Sherman. When he retains new counsel, the stakes go higher and the company increases its pressure and intimidation. How far will the company go to make sure its plans are successful and the people investigating will shut up or just disappear?

Critical Reaction has all the elements of a legal suspense novel — a David versus Goliath story, cover-ups and conspiracies and a legal team with issues of their own. While the plot kept me turning the pages, the characters were what made me love this book. Emily is an idealistic public defender who takes on Kieran’s case because of it rightness. Her father, Ryan, reluctantly signs on to the case after years of grief and malaise following his wife’s death. Kieran and Poppy are honorable men just trying to find out the truth. The villains are complex as well. Adam Worth has many motivations and enough sociopathic tendencies to make him very interesting. There are lots of shadow characters on both sides of the action to cause plenty of reader speculation.

So if you are looking for a suspense a la Whitlow, Singer or Grisham, then be sure to check out Critical Reaction.


(Thanks to Bethany House for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.