Error of Judgment

Dexter Dias, Author
Dexter Dias, Author Mysterious Press $22 (376p) ISBN 978-0-89296-651-6
Hardcover - 488 pages - 978-0-7540-1068-5
Hardcover - 488 pages - 978-0-7838-8282-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7451-6751-0
Hardcover - 488 pages - 978-0-7540-2044-8
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Dias did well in the U.K. with his first novel, False Witness, which led to a certain amount of hype to the effect that, as a practicing criminal lawyer, he is Britain's answer to Scott Turow and John Grisham. So far, the score is decidedly in the Americans' favor. Although Dias clearly knows his law and introduces a certain amount of local color concerning the drinking habits of lawyers around the Old Bailey, his plots and characterizations leave a great deal to be desired. Dias's hero is barrister Nick Downes, who seems to be losing the love of fellow barrister Sally Fielding when a remarkable case walks into his life: a man has confessed to a murder, can lead police to the body but doesn't know who it is--or even who he is. The mystery man has a highly seductive wife, who quickly has Nick in thrall--at least when he's not trying to make up with Sally or cozying up to sexy psychologist Ann Barnes (Nick's appeal to the opposite sex is one of the several inexplicable things about this remarkably feckless hero). The plot, involving prostitutes, drugs and a dual personality, is ludicrously far-fetched and quite devoid of suspense. The writing is clunkily trite (""Nick wondered whether the case would be another example of the only other biological law he knew: Boy plus Girl equals Trouble"") and flat (""...the claw hammer smashed into Liz's skull, crushing bone, making blood spurt from her head. And making a sickening sound""). ""In the style of John le Carre and Scott Turow,"" claims the publisher. Putting it kindly, Dias is not quite there yet. Major ad/promo. (Nov.)
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