False Accusations

Alan Jacobson, Author
Alan Jacobson, Author Atria Books $23 (416p) ISBN 978-0-671-02678-3
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Analog Audio Cassette - 448 pages - 978-0-671-04469-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-671-02679-0
Ebook - 978-0-7434-2201-7
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An apparent hit-and-run accident involving a car he owns results in a charge of vehicular manslaughter against an orthopedic surgeon in this laborious debut by California medical evaluator Jacobson. Two people die in what turns out to be a deliberate killing in a minority neighborhood in Sacramento, and Philip Madison's Mercedes is sighted as the vehicle, although he claims he was home in bed asleep, an alibi he can't prove. After he is arrested, Madison's attorney hires PI Ryan Chandler, an ace forensic investigator who will turn out to be the white knight of this narrative. Madison is already in trouble up to his neck: a beautiful but unstable volunteer worker for a mental health organization that Madison serves as president has suddenly and illogically accused him of rape. In the fallout from Brittany Harding's accusation, Madison's wife leaves him, taking the kids. It becomes clear quickly, as Brittany's emotional problems are drawn in large and stereotypically shrill outline, that she is the real killer. With all tension thus removed from the story, the author trots out some recent technological gains in forensics--saliva from the rim of a beer can for DNA sampling, retrieving and comparing Brittany's lip prints from a cigarette. There is far too much information about the novel's myriad cast of minor characters; numerous subplots add little to the main story; and a smattering of pharmaceutical and medical jargon essentially extends the slim material but does not enliven it. Moreover, Brittany's vindictive behavior is never explained; she merely acts out of female delusional fantasies. The trial is flat and predictably melodramatic. Jacobson's prose can best be described as wooden and graceless. This clunky attempt proves that forensic knowledge does not a writer make. Foreign rights sold to Denmark, Great Britain, Holland, Germany, Norway and Sweden; author tour. (Mar.)
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