Christopher Darden, Author, Dick Lochte, Joint Author . New American Library $24.95 (360p) ISBN 978-0-451-20732-6

The third pairing of former O.J. Simpson prosecutor Darden (In Contempt) and veteran mystery author Lochte (Sleeping Dog, etc.) pinballs the non-stop action from courtroom to bar room to bedroom. At the center of it all is Mercer Early, an ambitious young lawyer at the prestigious African-American law firm Carter and Hansborough. From his successful defense of a punk drug dealer whose father is a pillar of the church and the community to his romance with Vanessa Hansborough, the senior partner's daughter, Mercer appears to be on the fast track. But Mercer has a secret that could derail him. The authors' dark view of the Los Angeles legal system extends from the antiquated courts to the corrupt or incompetent police force, to the lawyers and law firms litigating, to the victims and defendants on trial. Amid the simmering stew of sex, drugs, alcohol, violence and courtroom pyrotechnics are a stable of memorable characters, including a racist white cop Mercer must defend and a homicide cop who lost his gun and his badge while drunk in a bar. Darden and Lochte (L.A. Justice; The Trials of Nikki Hill) make a formidable team, as murder and a frame-up reach from street dealers to boardrooms to pulpits to politics. It's a fast ride with a jolting, surprise finish. (Oct. 1)

Reviewed on: 09/30/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Mass Market Paperbound - 400 pages - 978-0-451-41122-8
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