The Fields Defense
by Rebekah Johnson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / New Adult
Print Length: 394 pages
Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
A unique story that explores the psyche and the power of blood being thicker than water
The Fields Defense centers around the “nice Fields boys:” Isaac, the eldest; Caleb, the pensive brother; and Luke and Eli, the twins with a nearly synchronized brain.
The brothers were an unstoppable force as a football team in high school until they met their immovable object: Luke’s dissociative amnesia, where he would become abusive then completely forget the incident. The dissociative amnesia continues into Luke’s adulthood once he marries Liberty, a beautiful piano player with a spinose past. Soon, he becomes extremely possessive of her.
The impetus occurs once Travis, a former high school boyfriend of Liberty’s, comes to check in on her after she stops responding to his texts. Luke is alerted to his presence by a camera that he installed in Liberty’s apartment and decides to confront Travis, despite the warnings from his siblings. Hours later, Travis is found dead in Liberty’s apartment, and Luke is the prime suspect of foul play. The Fields family, however, is oblivious that Luke is innocent. Which begs the question: if not Luke, then who?
The Fields Defense is like an iceberg. Above water, it appears as a thriller with a supernatural edge. However, as the reader floats along the water toward the iceberg, they can see the big genre mash-ups that make up the whole of this book. There’s a myriad of forbidden love, poisonous generational roots, privileged families, and fascinatingly horrific ways the brain can be weaponized without knowing much about why.
The dynamic between Liberty and Luke is written in such heartbreaking detail, such as Liberty’s ability to sense Luke’s mood based on microscale signs. Eli’s inability to completely sever Luke, with whom he shares an almost telekinetic connection, is another part of the book that evokes big emotions in me. Eli is the most complicated and dubious character by far. I was stuck between feeling sympathy and frustrated by his loyalty to Luke.
In the same vein that multiple genres make The Fields Defense interesting, it can feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen near the end of the novel. Most of this comes from the way the court scenes are handled; in a way, it feels like an amalgamation of gotcha moments rather than a true murder trial. Travis and many other characters seem sidelined or included for the sake of characterizing Liberty rather than letting her show the reader who she is.
Overall, The Fields Defense is well worth the read. I would recommend it to mystery readers who want a cutting edge book that diverges from genre expectations.
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