State V. Justice

Gallatin Warfield, Author, Gellatin Warfield, Author
Gallatin Warfield, Author, Gellatin Warfield, Author Warner Books $18.95 (323p) ISBN 978-0-446-51688-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-446-36477-5
Hardcover - 978-1-85903-130-8
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Legal know-how and polished narrative skills anchor this uneven courtroom thriller by a government prosecuting attorney. When a Soviet diplomat's six-year-old son is murdered, western Maryland state attorney Gardner Lawson begins a fierce battle with an old adversary--in and out of court. Defense attorney Kent King, representing known murderer and child-molester T. J. Justice, employs unpredictable tactics, and Lawson's case is far from airtight. The FBI and the State Department are involved, as are Soviet agents (the novel is set in the Gorbachev era). As the state nears a conviction, Lawson must grapple with the case's irregularities and overcome personal demons to get to the truth--which might exonerate the vicious man on trial. Warfield's command of legal issues and courtroom strategy makes for a credible, absorbing narrative. Less convincing are his development of the divorced Lawson's personal life and his treatment of the complexities of international espionage. Although the early chapters tend to drag, Warfield's authority in the courtroom and the clarity of his prose sustain this promising debut. 50,000 first printing; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (Nov.)
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