Author Cara Putman introduces a bright new protagonist in her latest novel BEYOND JUSTICE, a legal thriller that is both suspenseful and unique.
When Hayden McCarthy is assigned a wrongful death case against the government, she isn’t sure if it’s the lucky break she needs to secure a partnership in her law firm or the case that will guarantee she never gets it.
The woman knows firsthand the pain that comes when justice is not served. That’s why she became a lawyer. But as Putman explains, Hayden is not a crusader, at least not in her own mind: “She’s a hardworking gal with vision for where she wants to go. She doesn’t see herself as a heroine but someone just taking the next step forward.”
Most legal thrillers set the hero against a crazed maniac or evil corporation. In this case, the bad guys are federal, and Putman notes that making the government the enemy actually complicated the plot. “I really needed the case to be tried in the Court of Federal Claims,” Putman says, “but that meant I had to put on my legal hat and come up with a novel but believable legal theory. Only the government can be the defendant in that particular court, but that court doesn’t hear murder or wrongful death cases. So that became a big, but not insurmountable, challenge for Hayden.”
Putnam also had to humanize the government. It’s a big entity that doesn’t have a face, but it needed one for the book to work. Luckily Putman was highly qualified to make it work. Aside from getting her law degree at twenty-seven, she is the author of twenty-five books (even if they are all, to this point, romantic suspense and historical fiction).
It’s funny how things work out, eventually. When Putnam started writing, she fully expected to be writing legal thrillers: “At that time, no one was interested, but they really liked the concepts I had for WWII novels and more traditional romantic suspense. A few years ago, editors started asking when I’d have a legal thriller. Then it took time to form the concept and start finding the what-ifs I could be passionate about. With novels that are published traditionally, I have to have passion for the story for at least two years—from concept through writing and editing and then through publication and marketing.”
Once she found the hooks to inspire her, the legal plots started coming. Putman loves legal thrillers, but felt a strong need to make hers unique.
“One of the things I’ve done that’s a little different is adding this community of strong women in different aspects of the legal profession,” she says. “It keeps each book fresh. I think another element that makes my books different is that I am an attorney. I’ve tried cases, written appeals, argued in court, and now teach law. I understand the rules of evidence, and what I don’t know, I know how to find the answer, so that adds a level of authenticity that early endorsers and reviewers are picking up on.”
Another unique touch is the decidedly Christian flavor of Putman’s fiction. She feels that as a Christian who writes, everything she writes will have a taste of that.
“This one has a fairly light touch because that’s what the characters and story demanded,” she notes. “Fundamentally all of my books end up having a thread about how we can find hope when life is spiraling out of control. I think many of us feel that in our day-to-day lives it’s going too fast, and things happen that shake us to the core. In BEYOND JUSTICE I’m wrestling with what it means to find justice when the person who needs it is already dead.”
The sense that hope is always there if we’re willing to reach for it stems from her faith and her experiences in the dark moments of life. Despite this positive leaning, Putman pumps up the suspense. She says the law can be dry. But writing this novel was a lot like writing dialogue: you leave out all the boring parts and leave in the engaging.
She adds, “There’s also tension and pressure coming from several directions: Hayden’s professional career is being threatened, her life is being threatened, and ultimately who she thinks she is, is challenged. I think the combination of these elements is what has reviewers referring to it as nail-biting.”
This page-turner with a nonstop plot is the start of an exciting new series. In BEYOND JUSTICE Hayden is on the partner track at a boutique law firm that focuses on plaintiff’s litigation, and future books will launch from there.
“In the next book, Imperfect Justice, one of her fellow lawyers, Emilie, takes more of an advocacy role as she works with clients at a nonprofit,” Putman says. “Hayden must decide whether to strike out on her own. And she’ll be a continuing character as we see her practice and life develop across future books.”
So if you love legal thrillers, get in on the ground floor now by adding BEYOND JUSTICE to your must-read list.
Cara Putman graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, and completed her law degree at twenty-seven and her MBA when she should be thinking about her kids going to college. A woman who doesn’t let a moment go unused, Cara has written twenty-five books, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at Big Ten business school, practices law, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.
To learn more about Cara, please visit her website.