Spare Change

John A. Peak, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (363p) ISBN 978-0-312-11071-0
Successfully taking a few daunting narrative risks in his smashing first novel, a medical malpractice defense lawyer tells a compelling tale of murder and corruption. Two engaging attorneys serve as protagonists, each one fascinating and distinctive enough on his own to keep the reader hooked. Newly arrived in San Francisco, Jeff Talbot, a down-and-out lawyer and borderline alcoholic, decides to sleep in the park among the homeless. He awakens, deeply hung over, to find his female companion murdered and himself wounded and is plunged into a deadly game in which he is stalked by unknown assailants. Peter St. John, on the other hand, is a retired, successful malpractice specialist who breeds horses. When his doctor son is sued for malpractice, he returns to the firm he founded, now unexpectedly financially troubled, to find out why the charge against his son is getting so much attention. The cases intertwine, leading finally to two brutal murders and a bloody shoot-out at St. John's ranch. Peak turns up the tension even further by setting his story at the time of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. The villainy may turn out to be somewhat more grandiose than what the reader is prepared for, but all in all, this debut is both promising and accomplished. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1994
Release date: 08/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
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