Title: Conflict of Interest
Author: Zahra Owens
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 276 Pages
At a Glance: Conflict of Interest shows how two different people deal with abuse, healing, and relationships.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: When a material witness changes her story during a court interrogation, allowing the man who assaulted her little boy to go free, Senior Crown Prosecutor Finn DeHavilland’s legendary self-control goes out the window. His subsequent suspension from appearing in court leaves Finn with time on his hands. Desperate to continue working, and after regularly attending his mandatory psychiatric sessions, he accepts a delicate case involving a fraudulent Scotland Yard police detective.
Excited to be assigned to the case, DS Tommy Drummond, who has had a soft spot for Finn since Finn defended him during an internal investigation, and his partner, Stevie Fielding, begin uncovering evidence. A series of seemingly random occurrences muddle their investigation. Believing they’re on the right path, the team pushes forward, until Tommy’s apartment goes up in flames. Offering Tommy a guest room in his home turns up the heat on the growing feelings between Finn and Tommy. But Finn’s baggage may be too much to deal with, and paranoia threatens to tear them apart. As the net around the corrupt detective tightens, it becomes clear he must have had help from high places, and Finn and Tommy become pawns in the game.
Review: Finn DeHavilland is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the London courts. He is confident, brilliant and aloof, but time has taken a toll on him. He’s tired of handling the many abuse cases, especially child abuse, and is struggling not to be affected by them. They are heartbreaking for Finn. At the age of forty-two, he’s also a lonely man, married to his work, resigned to being celibate, and not confident at all in his personal life.
Tommy Drummond is a young Detective Sergeant working Serious Crimes Command. He’s smart and precise in his job and always likes seeking advice from Finn on cases he’s worked on. Plus, Tommy has a crush on Finn, and he loves going to the court just to watch the confident prosecutor in his wig and robe. Tommy has had his hook-ups, and even has a daughter, and he’s comfortable with being a gay man, but on a previous case, he was discredited and was brought up on dismissal charges by a former boss for being seen kissing another man outside a club. Finn came forward to testify in Tommy’s favor during the investigation, though, and therefore helped save Tommy’s job.
Finn is trying yet another child abuse case, when his witness starts to change her story. He becomes frustrated to the point that he leaves the prosecutor’s bench and is now in front of the witness box and has grabbed the witness’s hand. Tommy is watching the judge, Finn’s boss, and the ushers, but no one is doing anything to stop Finn. It’s then Tommy decides to come to Finn’s aid, and takes him from the courtroom to try and calm him down. But it’s too late, as Finn’s boss has entered the robing room with orders from the judge that Finn be assessed. Finn has been suspended, and he knows in order to get back to work he needs to meet with Ayse Kartal, the Crown Prosecution Services psychiatrist. As Finn confides in Ayse, she eventually recommends that he return to work, but his boss doesn’t want him back in court just yet.
Finn, Tommy, and his co-worker Stevie have been ordered to work together on a confidential case of evidence fabrication. As they start investigating all the cases in question, pieces start falling into place. Tommy has lost his home to a fire and moved in with Finn, is then badly beaten, along with other strange incidents that occur during the investigation. Are these all coincidence, or is someone trying to sabotage the case?
Zahra Owens offers a lot of insight into the characters’ emotions and thoughts, not solely based on sex. The story also shows how two different people deal with abuse, healing, and relationships. The court system and investigation of the case was very by-the-book, but interesting. There are many references to the London court system, and I felt a glossary of terms might have been helpful to explain acronyms and the different functions of the court.
You can buy Conflict of Interest here: