Thriller fiction can be a tricky genre for writers to write well in. To create a thriller, writers need to keep in mind that their plot needs to have suspense, a gripping story that is not too predictable, in depth characters, and, most importantly, knowledge of all of the events happening in the story. This last bit of information requires much research. Everyone who has been through school knows that research can be a tedious task, but without it, how would one obtain knowledge? That is the beauty in Garret Holms’ debut novel Grant of Immunity. Being a judge and criminal trial expert with nearly two decades of experience, Holms has extensive knowledge of the justice system and has shared that knowledge in a thriller of a fiction.
In 1976 Lost Angeles, a young Sarah Collins is raped and murdered by a sociopath. The only witness to this murder is fifteen year old Daniel Hart who is too stunned to believe what is happening and is threatened by the killer to keep what he witnessed a secret. Jumping ahead nineteen years to 1995, Hart has become a respected Judge. He has tried to put the past behind him, but it meets him again when he is given a case that involves Sarah Collins’ killer as well as her daughter. In order to bring the killer to justice, Hart must overcome his fear of the past to protect the ones of the present who have now become involved.
Many readers who are not familiar with the justice system may be put off by a story all about a murder trial, but it is quite the gripping read for anyone. For starters, Holms keeps his readers in mind and, rather than have the readers look up various judicial terms for understanding as they read, he has his characters explain to other characters what terms and phrases mean. This, in turn, informs the readers along with the characters as to what is happening as the story progresses.
Next up, Holms’ style of writing flows very nicely and keeps the readers’ attention. He knows what words work well together without making the sentences read sloppily. Granted, most of the story takes place in the court room, but Holms did not drag out the scenes. He kept the story rolling at a quick, but not too quick pace by giving just the right amount of detail to give the readers a visual and through characters dialog, which, all in all, was wonderfully executed. For a first time writer, he knows how to make a story flow and a majority of the story is told through the dialog of the characters. One of the best characters is lawyer Amanda Jordan. Her dialog is witty, yet professional at the same time and this makes the reader look forward to what she has to say next. Another one of Holms’ well written characters is his villain, Jake Babbage, who is a creepy, yet brilliant character, bestowed with the gift of the silver tongue and a thought process that can get him out of any situation. Whenever he lies, the reader finds himself or herself hating him and begging the good characters to bring him to justice. To invoke feelings like this just from dialog or detailed description takes skill which Holms most certainly possesses.
Speaking of characters, that is another intriguing part of the story. When a writer has multiple characters, sometimes it is hard to keep track of them and keep them in character. This was not a challenge for Holms. He had roughly around ten major characters (excluding minor characters) who each held onto their own personalities. Though it would have been more gripping and suspenseful for the readers not to know all of the details right at the get-go, the story would not have worked as well jumping back and forth between all of the characters. Each chapter lets readers get inside the heads of the different characters, revealing the conflicts, thoughts, and feelings of each one in turn. As aforementioned, readers will come to hate certain characters and root for other characters to succeed.
For a first novel, Holms has successfully accomplished a thrilling thriller in his Grant of Immunity. With a killer who shows the beginning phases of Jack the Ripper and the readers begging with the turn of each page for justice to be served, this novel will have readers hooked from beginning to end. Those who actively participate in the justice system will breathe a sigh of relief upon reading the words of a writer with knowledge in the field while the readers who are not familiar with the system will gain knowledge of a handful of judicial terms while also enjoying a gripping work of fiction. And, come April 7th, more readers will be able to enjoy Holm’s new work, for it will be released on all e-reading platforms as well as on audiobook. Make sure to clear the day’s schedule upon opening this book for it is not one that can be put down easily.