Forcing Amaryllis

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Calla Gentry had worked six years as an attorney handling civil suits at Marley and Partners Trial Consultants when a partner's premature maternity leave forces Calla to become involved in a criminal defense. The case against Raymond Cates, a businessman accused of rape and murder, shares shocking similarities with the rape and near-murder of Calla's sister, Amaryllis, seven years ago. Since her sister's attacker had never been caught, Calla wonders whether Cates is guilty of that long-ago brutality. Amaryllis, nicknamed Amy, had been so distraught by the attack that three weeks later she nearly succeeded in committing suicide. Now in a state of constant sleep, she has not opened her eyes for two years. Although limited by client confidentiality, Calla nevertheless strikes out to explore whether Cates was her sister's attacker. Her employer discovering these activities leads to Calla being fired, so she is free to watch Cates’ trial from the back of the courtroom. Testimony giving him a plausible alibi leads to acquittal, and Calla, who had mistrusted him until the end, concedes that he must have been falsely accused. As she lets down her guard, she finds that she and the jury have made a potentially fatal misjudgment.

Forcing Amaryllis is an engaging first novel from Louise Ure and carries the reader's attention without being horrific. To believe that so many just-right opportunities and coincidences could exist may stretch one's belief in the plausible, but that is a small price to pay for the entertainment value of the book.