The Judgment

William Jeremiah Coughlin, Author Thomas Dunne Books $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-15558-2
Coughlin (The Heart of Justice) left several unfinished manuscripts when he died.This one, finished and polished by his widow, Ruth Coughlin, is another Detroit-set thriller that pulls defense lawyer Charley Sloan into big-time action. A recovering alcoholic living in the quiet hamlet of Pickeral Point, Mich., Charley is nonetheless the man Detroit Deputy Police Chief Mark Conroy hires to defend him against the mayor's charge that he embezzled money from a cash fund used to pay informants. Discouragingly, the mayor has turned ""the Mouse,"" the huge cop who unofficially audited the fund for Conroy, into a witness for the prosecution, along with Conroy's former mistress. While romancing sex-crimes cop Sue Gillis, Charley derails a sex-abuse charge against Father Charles ""Chuck"" Albertus made by Sam Evans, an awkward, mildly retarded teenager who admits to a lie. Soon, angelic boys and girls start turning up murdered. Wrapped in plastic, bathed and dressed in clean clothes, the bodies appear with each snowfall. Desperate to catch the meticulous killer, Sue is nonplused when Charley defends the frazzled, incompetent Sam after he is placed at the first murder scene. Meanwhile, convinced that Conroy is innocent, Charley digs up political dirt on the mayor while Conroy himself pressures underworld heavies. Stress and suspicion drive Sue and Charley apart. Briefly tumbling off the wagon, Charley climbs back on in time to bring both cases to disappointingly predictable conclusions. The transparent villain and obvious secrets are not up to Coughlin's formidable best, but his fans will appreciate even this perfunctory story as a bittersweet swan song to an impressive career. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-312-96877-9
Ebook - 424 pages - 978-0-312-20724-3
Mass Market Paperbound - 424 pages - 978-0-312-96244-9
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7871-1505-0
Hardcover - 612 pages - 978-0-7862-1243-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-312-96878-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59040-161-3
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