Grand Jury 12-Copy Floor Display

Philip Friedman, Author
Philip Friedman, Author Dutton Books $299.4 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55611-468-7
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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After a long career spent writing thrillers both signed (Rage, 1972) and pseudonymous, and then working in film and TV, Friedman strode onto bestseller lists in the early 1990s with two legal thrillers, Reasonable Doubt and Inadmissible Evidence. Readers should also embrace his impressive third, which sweeps through a grand jury room-and then out of it with a vengeance when two jurors, Susan Linwood and David Clark, find their sympathies aroused by the plight of the Engs, an elderly Chinese couple whose indictment for possession of, and conspiracy to sell, heroin may be based on tainted testimony. In joining forces to help the Engs, Susan and David attract dangerous attention from state and federal prosecutors, Chinese officials and Chinatown gangs. During her outlaw odyssey, Susan, who is Chinese American and was born in Hong Kong, learns that her own son is addicted to heroin, a devastating revelation that prompts her to leaves her self-absorbed husband. Meanwhile, in a slower, parallel plot line, ADA Dan Mahoney builds a case against a detective in the Engs' pocket and against his own boss, the head of a new narcotics unit. Susan and David wind up sneaking off to Hong Kong to aid the Engs, but upon their return they receive a shock that spins the narrative around. There's less courtroom infighting here than in Friedman's last two novels, and at times the pacing slows considerably, but once again the author conjures characters whose lives seem to extend far beyond his pages. The author's approach to the legal thriller owes more to Dickens than to Grisham in any case, with social commentary and psychological exploration dominating plot concerns-and readers will finish this thoughtful, richly nuanced novel knowing more about the gloss and grit, the surface and soul, of 21st-century urban life than when they began. 150,000 first printing; $175,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured alternates; author tour. (May)
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