Book Review: Fatal Trust

13 Oct

Ian Wells is a young criminal defense attorney struggling to build a Minneapolis law practice he inherited from his father while caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s. Nearly at the breaking point, everything changes for Ian when a new client offers a simple case: determine whether three men qualify for over nine million dollars of trust funds. To qualify, none can have been involved in criminal activity for the past twenty years. Ian’s fee for a week’s work: the unbelievable sum of two hundred thousand dollars.

Ian warily accepts the job–but is quickly dragged deep into a mystery linking the trust with a decades-old criminal enterprise and the greatest unsolved art theft in Minnesota history. As stolen money from the art theft surfaces, Ian finds himself the target of a criminal investigation by Brook Daniels, a prosecutor who is also his closest law school friend. He realizes too late that this simple investigation has spun out of control and now threatens his career, his future, and his life.

Todd M. Johnson has been a practicing attorney for over 30 years. Todd’s passion for writing blends well with his legal career and his novels are drawn closely from his personal experiences as a trial lawyer.

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

The Deposit Slip, Johnson’s first novel, debuted in 2012. His second novel, Critical Reaction, was released in October 2013.

My Impressions:

If you are a fan of legal suspense, a la Grisham, Singer or Whitlow, then you definitely need to check out Todd M. Johnson. I have read all of his novels to date and am impressed by the twisting plots, well-developed characters, and the nuances of the legal wranglings. (Read my reviews of The Deposit Slip and Critical Reaction.) In Fatal Trust, a young lawyer must choose between doing the right thing or protecting his family — a family he quickly discovers has lots of secrets. I found this novel to be fast-paced and well-written, and is definitely a recommended read.

Set amidst courtrooms, seedy bars, and family neighborhoods of Minneapolis, Fatal Trust has a great sense of place. Johnson makes his home there and it shows. I’ve never been to the Twin Cities, but this book made me feel right at home. Of course, many of the attractions described in the book — alleys and barrooms — I’ll settle for visiting in the pages of the book! šŸ˜‰ Main character Ian Wells is a character I quickly came to love. A man who has sacrificed his career dreams for his family, Ian is just about at the end of his rope at the beginning of the story. A windfall fee for a week’s worth of work on a trust is too good to resist. But as Ian soon discovers, something too good to be true usually is. Ian’s struggle is so very real. It is easy to be tempted to turn a blind eye or justify our actions when money is involved. Secondary characters are complex as well, especially Ian’s friend, US Attorney Brook Daniels, and Ian’s mother, Martha, and give this plot-driven legal suspense novel depth. The reader is let in on more of what is actually going on before Ian, but there are plenty of surprises in store for both. The ending is great and certainly not what I was expecting.

There is more action outside of the courtroom than in, but there’s plenty of legal maneuvering to satisfy fans of this genre. All in all Fatal Trust is a riveting read. I am hoping for many more from Johnson.


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

2 Responses to “Book Review: Fatal Trust”

  1. Paula Shreckhise October 13, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

    This one really looks good.

    • rbclibrary October 13, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

      It is!

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