The Trials of Nikki Hill

Christopher Darden, Author, Dick Lochte, Joint Author Warner Books $40 (448p) ISBN 978-0-446-52326-4
Not surprisingly, this solid collaboration between ex-prosecutor Darden (In Contempt) and mystery novelist Lochte (Neon Smile, etc.) is about a high-profile murder case as seen by the Los Angeles D.A.'s office--but it's not about that high-profile murder case. Young, brilliant black prosecutor Nikki Hill, exiled to Compton after her 15 minutes of legal fame, is recalled to L.A. to become special assistant to District Attorney Joe Walden when the naked body of TV gossipmonger Maddie Gray is found in an alley dumpster and street punk Jamal Deschamps is caught stealing a diamond ring from the corpse. Case closed, or so it seems. But it turns out that Jamal, the obvious suspect, was chased into that alley by a gang called the Crazy Eights, and that the dead woman was blackmailing celebrities--including one who was last seen with her the day she died. As if taking cues from the TV series Law and Order, the plot unfolds both in the DA's office and through the murder investigation, the latter hampered by disappearing evidence and a leak inside the police department. Nikki also has a suspicious new boyfriend, whose advent into her life coincides with anonymous telephone reminders of a guilty secret. This is a sturdily built crime novel, written in a sharp, cinema-friendly style in which the good news (every scene reveals another kink in the complex plot) is balanced by the bad (the puzzle-pieces are often far-flung and less than revelatory). The ending strains credulity, but for the most part Darden and Lochte lead a stimulating investigation into the intersections, and racial tensions, among the dispossessed, the wealthy and a legal system that purports to dispense justice to both in equal measure. Agent, Mel Berger at William Morris. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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FORMATS
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-57042-591-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 496 pages - 978-0-446-60798-8
Open Ebook - 978-0-446-55635-4
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