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Book Review of "Almost Damned", by Chris Leibig


Chris Leibig’s 2016 PenCraft award-winning novel Almost Mortal ended with defense attorney Samson Young, having just learned that his client Camille Paradisi had risen from the dead after being brutally shot to death in front of the Bennett County Courthouse, agrees to represent her and the other descendants of the Fallen Angels in their plea for redemption.   In this sequel, Almost Damned, Sam seeks to keep his commitment. But how? Samson Young is a criminal defense attorney with an office in contemporary Washington, DC.  He is struggling to handle several legal cases that seem to be mysteriously interconnected.  The intense opening court scene sets the stage for drama and suspense that keeps the reader guessing until the last page.


Leibig's protagonist, Samson Young, his law partner Amelia, and investigator Nguyen are cast as normal, intelligent professionals. Young's firm represents a man charged with raping Tawana Salome Ortiz Hightower, a prostitute. But is she a  simple prostitute or a mysterious key to Sam’s past?  In fact, he has to try and determine if she is really human or something else. He is also tasked with representing an accused murderer, Igor Alexi, who actually admits to Sam that he committed the crime. Both cases seem like typical everyday crimes of passion until the results of a DNA test are received, and then they turn to something much more complicated and sinister. 

These strange cases confront Samson even with questions that link back to his deceased mother and an aunt and even have him questioning his own existence. DNA markers from his past and present clients indicate that these individuals are completely homozygotic. Does this mean they had only one human parent?   Are these individuals even humans? Aliens? Nephilim? 

Samson begins a fanatical religious mission to discover who these personages are and even who he is.  Knowing everybody has a story, he investigates his clients' backstories and discovers fascinating, unbelievable proof.  Proof of what? A demon gene? An alien race?

The contemporary courtroom scenes and criminal cases will grab the reader's attention, but it is the spiritual/religious angle that keeps the reader turning pages as the suspense increases with a distinctive trial in a mysterious courtroom with such cleverly written scenes and dialog that the reader won't be able to figure out the conclusion until the final page.

Readers will contemplate the bizarre religious theme emphasized in the plot long after turning the last page. Could the preposterous ideas presented here as facts have some incredible basis in reality?

Not only does Leibig write from his vast personal experience as an attorney, but he also has extensive knowledge of religious literature; the Bible, the Tora, and the noncanonical book of Enoch. In a masterful stroke of genius, he incorporates ancient religious teachings into contemporary lives. His storyline reveals his extensive research and skillful plotting.  Genuine compelling mysteries are hidden inside Leibig’s novel, several compelling mysteries in fact, but it’s the strong, engaging voice that will really draw readers into the dark, enchanting world he creates. Almost Damned is page-turning escapism at its best. 


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