Howard Roughan, Author . Warner $23.95 (364p) ISBN 978-0-446-52943-3

Roughan (The Up and Comer ) delivers a classic frame-up story, cleverly embellished and stocked with well-drawn albeit familiar genre characters (the sharply observant narrator, the black widow seductress, the bad cop and the less-bad cop) in his second slick page-turner. Narrator David Remler is a successful New York psychologist and the author of a book that explains how upstanding citizens can sometimes commit unspeakable crimes. He inadvertently launched his book onto the bestseller lists when he gave expert testimony in the trial of a rabbi accused of murdering his mistress; jurors cited his testimony as crucial to their decision to convict. Otherwise, we're told, they never would have imagined that a man of the cloth could do anything so horrible (perhaps this was written before the news broke about the recent scandal in the Roman Catholic Church). Still, the setup is clear and the plot full of satisfying poetic justice. Remler, a fine, sympathetic, kind and educated man who has profited from showing the world that anyone is capable of performing terrible deeds at any time, soon finds himself on the point of his own sword. He's accused of murder. His alibi stinks. A sticky web of circumstantial evidence ensnares him, and we watch as Remler's lawyers try to cut him loose. The novel is smoothly written, briskly paced and nicely constructed, with surprises that are genuinely startling. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (Mar. 9)

Reviewed on: 02/09/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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