This is a socially relevant mystery in which a lawyer turned investigator and an award winning reporter seeks to determine the underlying cause of a murder-suicide - an event only too prevalent in today's world. Their journey draws the reader into an interesting mystery story with explores the dark side of life in rural America.
Out of Balance is a book about a small town lawyer, whose fight for justice in a failed justice system has taken its toll, pushing him to early retirement. But when asked to jump back in, he does so and in the process, because of his persistence and that of his partners, he finds himself while exposing the forces behind the escalation of domestic violence in his community. Matt’s partners in the investigation are girlfriend, Jennifer Nichols, who shows the readers how it felt to be in and how she escaped the domestic violence trap, and investigative reporter Linda Lawson, who shows the readers how a meticulous investigation yields leads into the dark places in soul of the community.
It is a story of triumph. Though fiction, the source material comes from four decades of my personal experience practicing law in California communities. This is real stuff, although the names and some of the details have been changed to assure that it is received as fiction.
The protagonist is Matt Lucas, a lawyer who has devoted his professional life to obtain justice for women and children in a rural community, and who is in the process of retiring and relocating to Santa Fe, New Mexico, when he is called upon to assist Linda Lawson, an award winning San Diego reporter, in a seemingly routine investigation of an incident of domestic violence that has taken place in fictional Maidu County in the Mother Lode Country of Northern California. Their investigative assignment quickly transforms into a suspenseful mystery that plunges the reader into the worlds of domestic violence, child abuse, corruption, murder, and judicial cover-up. As the investigation begins to yield answers, they are trapped in a deadly game in which they have become the hunted. Holding tight to their mission, they follow a twisting path that leads to the secrets behind the killings and a deeper understanding of themselves. Readers will be stunned by the surprise conclusion.
Wondering what I now had to deal with, I knelt down in front of the
tire to examine it. After all, if it were nothing more than a slow leak, I
would pump it full of compressed air from the fix-a-flat canister I always
carried on the shelf behind the seatback. Then I noticed the jagged rip in
the sidewall. Slashed, I muttered.
Just then I detected movement, right before a…what?…a pipe? Came
crashing down, glancing off my head onto my left shoulder. Fortunately,
I when I turned my head to see and thusly lessened the blow which
otherwise would have caught me directly. I was momentarily dizzy, but
turned further and reached back with my arm to ward off the next blow.
My hand caught a smallish round metal pipe with a bump on the end as
it came slashing toward, and then into, my hand. I closed my hand around
the small metal pipe and pulled it sideways and down toward my waist,
looking up, and right into the cruel eyes of Emily’s father. I could feel the
wetness of the blood gushing from the area between my thumb and
forefinger. That bump had straight sides and had opened a gash.
A loud explosion went off. Now my hand was hot—burning. My ears
hurt from the sound. I held on. The rod I was holding was the smoking
barrel of a six-inch Smith and Wesson revolver. Still I held on. I used
every muscle in my lean frame to pull the gun toward me, tilting the barrel
away and down so that it continued to point past my body. I am no Mr.
America, but I worked hard to stay in shape. I guess it was just hard
enough to keep the barrel from pointing at me.
If my hand could have screamed it would. The burning sensation was
excruciating. I could see Jack Stone trying to gain control of his balance
and pull the trigger again. With a monumental effort, I jammed my other
hand between the hammer and the gun body. The skin between my
thumb and forefinger tore. Amidst the pain, I felt the warmth of more
blood beginning to run down my arm.
Stone was face to face with me, tumbling forward. I could smell the
cheap rye whiskey on his breath and feel him struggle to regain his
balance so he could pull the trigger again. But he was weakening. Stone’s
grip was easing on the gun.
In the distance, I could see Sheriff’s deputies running across the
parking lot toward us.
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Reader Reviews for "Out of Balance"
|Reviewed by Michael Arkin
A Book That Educates as it Entertains, April 13, 2010
By E. R. Baldwin - (Irvine, California)
Matt Lucas, the lawyer of this spirited novel, takes us into the world of domestic abuse and its many consequences. The story takes so many twists and turns that you are riveted the whole time you read it; in fact, I resented real life creeping in (like house cleaning, cooking and answering the phone) when it interrupted my reading : )
As entertaining as the book was, I was educated about a world beyond my comfort zone --- abusive parents, victimized children and the intimate scenes of life on illegal drugs. Any reader of this book will want to be more of a watchdog in his neighborhood and looks for signs of abuse. I predict that it will become required or at least recommended reading in courses on domestic abuse. Five stars for a book that opens your eyes and makes you want to make the world a better place.
BK WALKER BOOKS (Howard, Pennsylvania)
" Out of Balance by Michael Arkin was absolutely outstanding. Arkin did a miraculous job writing this novel, detailing just what can happen when the judicial system goes "dirty". Out of Balance is in the setting of today, which I loved about this title.
As an astute lawyer fights for the rights of women and children in domestic violence and child abuse cases, Arkin shows just how hard work can be made out as an exasperated waste of time.
When a crooked judge continually rules the cases that come before him favoring the abuser, Mathew Lucas is at his wit's end. When a few murders occur as a result of this particular judge's faulty and unjust rulings, it draws the attention of an award winning journalist.
Linda Lawson works for the Times in San Diego California. She is on vacation when she receives a mysterious letter informing her of the increased domestic violence, child abuse, and deaths encouraging her to investigate. She teams up with Matt Lucas and they investigate into the violence of Maidu County. The closer they get to the truth, trouble stirs themselves and others in danger.
Arkin portrays great transitioning as he introduces his characters. He does a fantastic job keeping the suspense on the surface as the story opens, keeping you yearning for more. As you are indulged to keep guessing as to how the story will unfold, the ending will definitely be a surprise to you.
Out of Balance by Michael Arkin is masterfully written and I definitely would recommend this book. Arkin did a magnificent job keeping the enthusiasm from the beginning to the end. I give it ****½ (4.5) Stars ~BK Walker - Author/Reviewer of BK Walker Books, "
SUE McMEANS (The Real Facts, San Luis Obispo, California-)
"I received your book a couple of days ago and it is really interfering with other things I need to do. I can't put it down …. "
William Ellis, Col. USAF, ret. (Merritt Island, Florida)
“...very hard to put down….The ending will knock your socks off. A definite must buy and read….”
Roberta Marchant Jennings, High School Teacher (South Carolina)
“LOVED your book. It needs to be made into a movie.”
Peggi Kroll-Roberts, award winning artist (Laguna Beach and Angels Camp, CA).
“Honestly I couldn’t put it down….a great read.”
Jimmy Johnson, Chandlery Gifts (Atlanta, Georgia)
“fantastic….love the detail.”
Nancy Vickers, US State Department, retired (Hague, Virginia)
“Love the personalities of all your characters….your book does a great job of shedding light on the issue of abuse.…”
Lou Hansen, retired (South Carolina)
“Great book. When does the next one come out….?”