Perri O'Shaughnessy, Author . Delacorte $24.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-385-33484-6

Penned by sisters Pamela and Mary O'Shaughnessy, this eighth novel to feature South Lake Tahoe attorney Nina Reilly puts the lawyer in the defendant's chair. Ever since she was a little girl, Nina has believed that rules are what people use to make sense of the world and that law is a way of enforcing the rules to keep the world sane. But when her truck is stolen, along with her three most sensitive case files, her sane world turns topsy-turvy. In the wrong hands, those files could compromise a client's chance at fair visitation rights, affect a second client's insurance claim and put two girls at risk from the murderer whose crime they witnessed. Suddenly, Nina finds herself facing possible disbarment as she's brought up on disciplinary charges before the California State Bar Court. Current boyfriend Paul and ex-husband Jack try to help Nina figure out who stole the files and, more importantly, who is trying to destroy her life. The initial setup of Nina's predicament is taut as a wire, but the story bogs down in court, where much of the testimony, while realistic, is filler: a space-occupying rehash of what the reader already knows. As for the climax, it's so hokey that the dialogue reads like an old Batman episode. Chances are, though, since this is just a first offense, series fans will release this effort on its own recognizance in the hopes that the next case will be a winner. Agent, Nancy Yost. (Aug. 6)

Forecast:Hokey or no, readers will enjoy the role reversal here. Expect the usual Shaughnessy sales bolstered by major ad/promo and an author tour.

Reviewed on: 06/10/2002
Release date: 07/01/2002
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