cover image Enemy Combatant

Enemy Combatant

Ed Gaffney, . . Dell, $6.99 (356pp) ISBN 978-0-440-24374-8

Gaffney’s latest gut-grabbing legal thriller turns up the heat on attorney Tom Carpenter by stacking the deck against him and his new client, Hispanic Muslim Juan Gomez, who is accused of being a mass-murdering terrorist. In a nice opening gambit from Gaffney (Diary of a Serial Killer ), Carpenter gets the case thrust upon him when Gomez’s appointed public defender fails very publicly to defend Gomez during jury selection, and Carpenter becomes a very vocal witness in the gallery. It’s not far into the trial before Carpenter is threatened in the men’s room of the Phoenix, Ariz., courthouse by a hooded assailant, who claims to want to warn Carpenter of a conspiracy to target him and his family—while holding a gun to his head. When the masked stranger appears to play a role in bolstering the prosecution, Carpenter knows he must find out who he is, what he knows and who, if anyone, is behind his actions. The secondaries are stick figures at best, but Carpenter’s first-person narration carries the story, with plenty of thrills and chuckles along the way. (Feb.)