The Last McKenzie by Kirk Ross (pre-publication review)

By Ekta R. Garg

May 16, 2012

Rated: Borrow it

The members of a family worth a fortune start dying within weeks of each other, leaving the fate of the fortune up in the air.  When more than one person steps forward to stake a claim to the millions available, a lawyer operating on a shoestring must jump in to sort through the mess.  First-time author Kirk Ross offers this premise in his novel The Last McKenzie.

Lawyer Jack Mitchell practices solo, having gone the route of the large, glossy law firm and finding it didn’t suit his life priorities.  The news of the death of his college mate, Connor McKenzie, shocks him, and when Connor’s widow shows up on the doorstep of his office Jack knows this will be no ordinary case.  Connor’s widow wants to know whether she’ll have any claim to the vast fortune of the McKenzie family, amassed by creating a pharmaceutical company that stands third in the world.

The widow of the youngest McKenzie sibling, Maggie doesn’t know the details about her husband’s family’s riches.  As a physician Connor always focused on helping the underprivileged of the world receive the healthcare they so desperately needed, and as a nurse Maggie happily assisted him in his work.  The one thing Maggie does know is that all of their expenses were paid from the McKenzie Trust, the major holding into which the McKenzie siblings’ share of the fortune was funneled.  With Connor dead Maggie knows any claim she might place on the trust is tenuous at best.

Jack doesn’t see much hope for Maggie’s financial future until she discovers she’s pregnant and is carrying the heir to the McKenzie empire.  An unscrupulous extended family member makes an appearance just as this latest development falls into Jack’s lap, and the legal battle begins to determine just who is the last McKenzie.

Author Kirk Ross gives his readers an enjoyable story to follow.  The plot will keep readers engaged and make them want to know what happens next.  Ross has a likable writing style that pays due homage to the popular legal thrillers of the day while still maintaining his own voice.  While he may reduce some of the scenes to being overly explanatory or didactic, these minor drawbacks remain just that—minor.  A small plot oversight might have readers scratching their heads — if the McKenzie family is so rich and so influential, where is the police investigation that surely would follow their deaths?  But Ross manages to keep the story moving along so that readers may not miss the cops much.

The narrative as a whole never detracts from the main story and even though the impending conclusion might feel predictable, Ross manages to throw in some surprises that will make readers pause (keep an eye out in particular for the way Jack Mitchell’s short trip to California hits the right emotional notes without being too sappy or overwrought.)  Likewise, the climax will have readers sitting up wide-eyed to find out just how it all plays out.

I would highly recommend readers keep an eye out for this book and give it a read once it becomes available to the public.


What the ratings mean:

Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection.  It’s definitely worth it!

Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.

Bypass it–Free time is precious.  Don’t spend it on this book!

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