Book ReviewStrong, Smart Female Protagonist in PNW Legal Series
By Rachel Luke, Friedman | Rubin, PLLP
This article was reposted from the May 2023 issue of Trial News, the monthly newspaper of the Washington State Association for Justice.
The Complication: A Camille Delaney Mystery
By Amanda DuBois
Girl Friday Books, 2022
306 pages, hardcover
There are two types of lawyers: those who enjoy fictional depictions of the law and those who don’t. As a Law and Order: SVU fan, I consider myself in the first category. If you also enjoy legal fiction as a genre, you will love fellow WSAJ EAGLE member Amanda Dubois’s The Complication: A Camille Delaney Mystery.
When her dear friend Dallas dies of a complication from a routine but unexpected surgery, Seattle attorney Camille Delaney leaves her cushy family law practice to pursue the medical malpractice case. Often wondering whether the father-like relationship with Dallas is clouding her judgment, Camille proceeds down a dangerous path to determine the cause of his death in the pursuit of justice. Putting everything on the line—her finances, her reputation, her friendships, and her family’s safety, Camille’s tenacity is both questionable at times and inspirational. Camille’s investigation leads her to something much more sinister than the typical medical negligence case.
The primary cast of characters is strong, intelligent women who make choices to actively break down barriers. The protagonist, Camille, is a nurse and pilot turned attorney. Trish Seaholm is a private investigator who had left the Seattle Police Department after being harassed for being gay. Trish agrees to help Camille investigate, which unfortunately puts herself in danger. Gigi Roberts is a renowned research pathologist at the University of Washington whose research brought the school millions of dollars. Yet Gigi is reluctant to help Camille with her case due to a policy at the university prohibiting the doctors from consulting in litigation matters.
In The Complication, negligence unfolds in a different way from our typical cases—corruption and evil run deep with many twists, but I do not want to get into any spoilers. The Pacific Northwest culture is the perfect backdrop for this plot. The story takes place in Seattle and the San Juan Islands. Camille lives on a houseboat in Laurelhurst, the University of Washington is commonly mentioned, and there is even a trip to Arizona for Mariners’ spring training. From the float planes on Lake Washington to the Windermere Cup, Dubois has a way of making our region and customs come alive.
For those of us in the trenches of working on wrongful death or medical malpractice cases, it may be easy to get bogged down by whether depictions of the practice of law are accurate. For example, Camille is able to retain an expert in the case one day and the next day this expert is sitting for her deposition. There is a scene from a mediation which is fun to read, but I cannot say I have ever experienced a mediation like that. Negotiations with the insurance adjuster are similar to real-life conversations, but on steroids! On the other hand, Camille expresses many of the same frustrations that WSAJ members have with trying to get treating doctors to talk to us or to testify for their patients. The doctors’ distrust of lawyers and the legal system is palpable, even as Camille is friendly with many medical professionals due to her husband’s position as a doctor for the University of Washington. Although Dubois’s artistic license could be a negative for some, it makes for an exciting entertaining storyline in this legal medical mystery.
This is a fun and easy to read thriller that is perfect for a vacation or a book club. Of note, all of the profits from sales of this book are donated to the Full Circle Scholarship, which provides tuition assistance to students at Seattle University School of Law, and will support the work of social justice organizations. In March, Amanda Dubois published her second book, Deliver Them From Evil: A Camille Delaney Mystery.
Rachel Luke, EAGLE member, is an attorney at Friedman Rubin PLLP in Seattle, Washington. Rachel represents clients in personal injury, product liability, and insurance bad faith cases. She is currently the Diversity Committee co-chair for WSAJ.