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November 19, 2019

I wanted to like a library book sale purchase of Rogue Lawyer. It had an intriguing premise, thought-out characters, and some gripping court scenes. But I can’t quite like it since handles the “multiple plotlines” structure poorly, especially at the end. There are a few elements this structure needs to work, and the book fumbles each of them.

  1. The plot threads need to merge in unexpected, dramatic ways. I’ll concede some threads do help nudge others to their conclusion. But they don’t get tied together to a more coherent, “greater than the sum of its parts” conclusion. Some wind up just being supports instead of their own compelling plotlines.
  2. There’s no satisfying conclusion. The main character reflects on what happens, shrugs, and feels depressed about the path they’ve taken. They didn’t combine into a larger lesson unless that lesson is “I give up.” Either way, it makes the entire book fizzle out like a misfired firework.
  3. It doesn’t foreshadow the plotlines’ convergence. In my opinion, the greatest strength of a multiple plotline structure is the unexpected ways the plotlines can converge. Teasing this result at the start is great since it makes the reader wonder “how could these stories possibly cause this” and set their imagination on fire as they read. Not doing this is wasting one of the best ways to keep the reader’s attention.

Want a book that does this right? Read “Big Little Lies.” You’ll thank me later.