Detained

DetainedDetained by Don Brown
Series: The Navy JAG
Genres: Military, Political, Suspense
Published by Zondervan on April 21, 2015
Pages: 416

 

Lebanese national, Hasan Makari has waited his whole life to visit America. Finally, he and his son, Najib (who is serving in the US Navy) are going to be reunited on American soil. But his dream suddenly turns into a nightmare when he and his son are accused of being terrorist and held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Their only hope lies in JAG officer, Matt Davis.

To call Matt’s new assignment a challenge would be a sever understatement. Defending Guantanamo Bay detainees is nothing short of life threatening. As he soon learns, not only are the odds stacked against his client, but the Constitution that he swore to uphold is not held to the same esteem in Guantanamo Bay as it is on US soil. With the life of his clients on the line and his safety at risk, Matt begins trying to defend clients that truly have no hope of winning.

While Matt is trying to find justice for his clients, Emily Gardner is given the opportunity of a lifetime in the form of a major promotion. But she soon discovers that what looks so promising might actually have some strings attached and those strings tie back to Matt’s case. Will Emily be able to find a way to ensure justice is given to all parties involved? With strong political influence and intriguing questions about justice, Detained is only partially what I expected.

With strong political influence and intriguing questions about justice, Detained is only partially what I expected.

Hmmm…well, I wanted to love this book, but that didn’t really happen. It’s good, just not as good as I was expecting. This is the first book I’ve read by Don Brown and chose it based on the NetGalley summary. In hindsight, I might have only needed to read the summary as that pretty much not only summarizes the plot but also tells the story. Really all that’s left is filling in the details and making some pretty logical conclusions—none of which are surprising. Which could have still been okay, except the book leans towards my least favorite of the three main plots and my least favorite character. Overall, the story that’s presented is good, but certainly not what I was hoping for based on the summary.

In hindsight, I might have only needed to read the summary as that pretty much not only summarizes the plot but also tells the story.

Legal dramas can be a lot fun, especially as the lawyers work through the different legal issues and come up with inventive ways to help their clients. Given that Detained also adds the military legal system and political elements, it seems like it should be a sure winner. However, the legal aspect of the novel never really develops. There’s a little courtroom action, but the reader doesn’t get to follow along with Matt as he works to defend his clients. Additionally, this part of the story is often abandoned for many chapters and over all, very much lacking. Given that Matt is a truly likeable character, I wanted to see more of his legal mind and not just his caring personality.

Hasan and Najib are really great characters and their story does invoke a range of emotions. Don brilliantly demonstrates what can happen to people who fall outside of the protection of the US justice system. The ordeal that Hasan and Najib are forced to endure highlights the possible (and quite probable) abuses that have been suffered at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Though Hasan and Najib are innocent, it gives the reader a lot to contemplate in terms of how much we’re willing to compromise other people’s rights for American safety. This is a great part of this book and honestly at times I didn’t want to read about the possibilities because it is uncomfortable. But ultimately, these topics are important to consider and I’m glad I read Detained if for no other reason than to better understand these issues.

Don Brown brilliantly demonstrates what can happen to people who fall outside of the protection of the US justice system.

At times I felt like this book ventured into the realm of dystopian fiction. Maybe that was the intent—to demonstrate what TSA and Homeland Security could turn into? I’m not educated enough on the topic to know the plausibility of the presented scenario, but it doesn’t always feel realistic. At times it feels alarmist and opinionated—almost like the author is trying to make this book a cautionary tale as much as an entertaining read.

My biggest issue with Detained is with Emily and her storyline. I didn’t like her character from the beginning and I never grew to like her. She felt shallow and self-absorbed. As she seemed to try to change, she still felt shallow and self-absorbed. All the way to the end of the book, I felt like she was not getting the bigger picture even when her actions tried to make her appear that way. Her prayers felt terribly contrite and the fact she even prayed totally out of character. As a result, I found myself routinely setting the book aside when her storyline returned. Since this part of the book turned out to be the driving plotline, I was quite disappointed.

Even though Detained is not what I hoped for, I’m glad I read it. I do intend to try a couple more Don Brown books to see what they’re like. I really wish I had not read the summary and started reading it blind though. That maybe would have allowed for better suspense. However, I would have still struggled with Emily’s character and the lack of legal maneuvering that is incredibly fun in these types of books.

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