Critical Reaction by Todd Johnson


I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Courtroom suspense combined with a tightly woven action/thriller storyline makes for an excellent page-turner (or as in my case, a fast paced thumber on my Kindle). I found myself reading far into the night, which doesn't happen very often for me.

All things considered, the story is very interesting, and gripping. Johnson does an excellent job of painting realistic scenes of corporate management, courtroom drama, and blue collar worker motivations in small town America. Quite ingenious how he weaves these nuances into motivations. I'll be looking for more from this author.

Critical Reaction is written from several points of view. Although head jumping is not one of my favorite storyline ploys, there is no head-hopping within a single scene, praise the Lord! The writing is excellent and draws you into this very believable story.

Ryan The Attorney whose daughter, Emily, is also an attorney. Ryan lost his wife and was devastated to the point of basically losing his practice if not his reputation. He was so decimated by his wife's death, he almost completely alienated his daughter. He is extraordinarily perceptive, so much so that you wonder how he could have allowed his relationship with his daughter fall so far into the pits. 

Kierney who is on temporary duty at the Hanford plutonium, supposedly now defunct, factory finds himself in terrible straits after his first chapter harrowing experience. He calls his friend Emily who talks her dad into representing him.

Poppy is another security guard at Hanford. You follow his experiences after the first chapter explosion trying to juggle life, wife, family, and a search for his friend Lew who disappeared after the first chapter.

Another mid-management person whose name I have forgotten. This character proves to be crucial to the whole story, but I found his character development rather 2-dimensional. We are privy mostly to his thoughts and they don't seem to develop and then expose his motivations, except Greed. For all the nuances of this novel, the motivation is just too obvious. You know at the very first of his villainous personality traits but they don't become apparent until well into the book.

There is quite a bit of rehash. Three or four times we get Ryan's background about his wife and daughter. Enough already. The character I liked the most is Poppy. He is the most believable and direct. It is almost like an initial story centered around him, then was later expanded to include background stories of the rest of the characters.

I won't spoil the ending for anyone, but frankly I felt a bit ripped-off. Investing all my time in reading this story I wanted very much to have that satisfaction of Ryan and Emily wiping the courtroom floor with Hanford. Not. So don't get your hopes up. They do get just desserts, but just not in the courtroom... sigh.

Where to Purchase

Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter. Visit his website at

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