Perri O'Shaughnessy, Author . Delacorte $24.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-385-33483-9

A wild, just-barely-believable scenario jump-starts this serviceably written, well-paced and engaging courtroom thriller, seventh in a series by the bestselling duo (sisters Pamela and Mary O'Shaughnessy) who write under the pen name Perri. On an ordinary night at a Lake Tahoe casino, a young ex-Marine and Native American widow named Jessie Potter punches a button on a slot machine and winds up hitting the jackpot—to the tune of $7 million. Rather than jumping for joy, she flees the casino, dragging computer nerd Kenny Leung, the man at the slot machine next to hers, along with her. Jessie, it is revealed, is being stalked and can't sign for her check, for fear of publicity. Desperate for a solution, she convinces Kenny to marry her so she can sign as Mrs. Leung, and to protect her interests, she hires lawyer Nina Reilly, back once more after her adventures in Move to Strike. The story takes off when Jessie's former father-in-law enters the picture with a wrongful death suit, claiming that Jessie killed his son, and a writ of execution that will seize all of Jessie's assets, including the $7 million. Meanwhile, key witnesses to Jessie's win keep turning up dead, and Nina and her arch rival, Jeff Riesner, face off in court. Although development of the interpersonal relationships is rushed, making them never quite as believable as they should be, and the language and dialogue are rendered predictably, the suspenseful and well-executed courtroom scenes provide ample payoff. In particular, the book's final third captivates with its scenes of wily courtroom negotiation. Readers will relish the myriad plot details and the procedural drama, and enjoy the cast of offbeat characters. Major ad/promo; author tour.(July 10)

Reviewed on: 06/11/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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