cover image Blind Man's Alley

Blind Man's Alley

Justin Peacock, Doubleday, $25.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-385-53106-1

More Grisham lite than Turow weighty, Peacock's second legal thriller falls short of the standard set by his Edgar-finalist debut, A Cure for the Night. When Duncan Riley, a rising star at a prestigious New York City law firm, accepts a pro bono eviction case, he welcomes this relatively straightforward diversion from the tedium of litigation practice. Then a complication arises: Riley's client, Rafael Nazario, is charged with the murder of the security guard at Nazario's public housing project who'd falsely accused him of smoking pot. While Riley gets approval from his mentor to continue representing Nazario, he feels pressured to cut a deal for his client, whom he genuinely believes to be innocent. Meanwhile, the attorney is receiving a great deal of attention from another client, Leah Roth, heiress apparent to a large real estate empire under scrutiny for its role in a deadly accident at one of its buildings. Peacock underdoes his characters' psychology, while the deus ex machina Riley uses to prove a sinister plot undercuts the book's atmosphere of gritty realism. (Aug.)