As a top prosecutor of the Boston District Attorney’s Homicide Unit, Abby Endicott has earned her position, rising through the ranks with her contemporaries, working closely with the detectives assigned to their cases. It is a tightly-knit group, born of loyalty and necessity: “A phone call at 3 AM only means one thing: someone in Boston has been murdered.” So when Endicott gets an early morning call to attend a murder scene, she isn’t surprised--until she learns the identity of the victim: prosecutor Tim Mooney, a friend since the early days of their careers and sometimes lover, although Mooney is married with a small child. Their ongoing affair has been a carefully kept secret, except that many of the detectives at the murder scene seem aware of the connection between Abby and Tim. The affair that ended a few months ago is terminated, Tim’s lifeless body leaving detectives and prosecutors with another dilemma: the critical murder case Mooney was scheduled to begin.
Lorenzo Jones, an infamous criminal, is on trial for the murder of three people in a drive-by shooting. One victim, Jasmine Rees, is dead.
The second, Denny Mebane, sustains irreversible damage to his brain and vital organs.
The third, Ezekiel Hogan, has survived his injuries but is terrified to take the stand and identify the shooter. Though Abby is the obvious choice to take over Mooney’s prosecution of Lorenzo Jones, a conflict of interest can provide the defense with significant evidence of prosecutorial bias against his client.
Years before, Abby suffered a personal loss and has nurtured a desire for revenge for years. Desperate to replace Mooney as prosecutor, she vows to keep her private issues about anything related to the case at hand in check. An effective prosecutor is expected to remain professional regardless of any extenuating circumstances, and Abby has every intention of doing so, even if her resolve is tested at every turn. The murder of Tim Mooney and the completion of his case against Jones are the focus of Mission Hill, Abby’s challenges as a professional demanding she never lose focus. Whatever her personal history or unwise entanglements, Endicott must prevail on Tim’s behalf.
Wechsler humanizes her procedural with the personal histories and idiosyncrasies of her characters, from Endicott’s bosses and fellow prosecutors to those whose lives have so drastically been altered by a murderous street thug casually resorting to violence to intimidate witnesses. Jones never attempts to hide who he is, the court filled daily with his crew, defended by an attorney
who hides his brilliance behind slovenly attire and false naiveté. Abby isn’t fooled; nor does she underestimate the danger of her position as lead prosecutor, relentlessly tracking down resistant witnesses in a quest to convict Jones and give the victims’ families a small measure of peace.
The protagonist’s personal life is a little more complicated, her inability to communicate with musician/boyfriend Ty Clarke creating an emotional conflict that distracts Endicott from the dangers at hand. Adept at compartmentalization, Abby is usually successful, although the circumstances surrounding the trial and office politics force a reexamination of her choices. The author’s background facilitates her skills in structuring this legal thriller. A former screen writer experienced in creating scripts for the popular
Law & Order franchise, her plotting is succinct, chapters short and to the point, a story built on specific actions. All told, Mission Hill is entertaining though restrained, much the way prosecutor Endicott approaches her personal life.