cover image The Quiet Boy

The Quiet Boy

Ben H. Winters. Mulholland, $28 (448p) ISBN 978-0-316-50544-4

A medical tragedy propels this subpar legal thriller from Edgar winner Winters (Golden State). In 2008, 14-year-old Wesley Keener falls at his L.A. high school and is rushed to a hospital to treat the resulting subdural hematoma. When the surgery doesn’t go as planned, Wesley emerges permanently brain-damaged. Attorney Jay Shenk persuades the boy’s parents, Beth and Rich, to sue the hospital and the medical personnel involved. Neuroscientist Theresa Pileggi, an expert on the human brain, testifies at the subsequent trial on the plaintiff’s behalf. In 2019, Shenk is drawn back into the case when Rich is charged with the premeditated murder of Pileggi, who was both shot and hit in the head with a lamp. After Rich confesses and potentially faces the death penalty, he fires his public defender, placing Shenk in the difficult position of trying to save the life of a client who wants to be executed. The shifts between events a decade apart confuse more than they generate suspense, and Wesley’s plight has little emotional impact. Winters has been better in crafting characters readers will connect with. Agent: Joelle Delbourgo, Joelle Delbourgo Assoc. (May)