BRUTALITY by Ingrid Thoft Reviewed

Ingrid Thoft
P. Putnam
June 23rd, 2015


Brutality by Ingrid Thoft is a captivating crime novel.  Besides the mystery of a “who done it murder,” the author raises questions about sports brain injuries.  This plot explores the theoretical and practical, the balance between loving the sport, in this case, soccer, and the compelling evidence of the dangers involved in playing it.

The story has soccer mom Liz Barone attacked in her kitchen, where she eventually dies from her injuries.  Private investigator Fina Ludlow is hired by Liz’s mother to find the attacker. Through her investigation Ludlow finds out that Liz is suing her alma mater for a mild cognitive impairment head injury incurred while she was a player for New England University. Carl Ludlow, Fina’s father, decides to take the civil case as Fina tries to narrow the list of suspects: Liz’s research boss, her husband who has a hidden secret, other members of the soccer team, and a sleezy booster.  In addition to the mystery the family plotline continues with her abusive older brother, a niece wondering about her actual family, and Fina’s relationship with her police friend.

Fina is a great character that is independent, sarcastically humorous, tough, tenacious, and quick thinking.  The only daughter in a family of three sons, and the only one not to attend law school, she stands out in the family dynamics.  Her parents are dysfunctional, the mother more than the father.

The author is excited that ABC  Studios is teaming up with producer Mark Gordon to adapt the first two books into a TV series.  The pilot is possibly being filmed this fall season, about a family drama set around the Ludlow family business, a high-powered personal injury law firm.

Brutality balances real-life themes with an exciting story.  The protagonist is a well-developed character whose dry narration enhances the action. The sub-plot regarding the complex family dynamics is very well written.

Elise Cooper