Prior Convictions

Lia Matera, Author Simon & Schuster $17.45 (204p) ISBN 978-0-671-68560-7
Matera ( The Good Fight ) examines the limits of loyalty and friendship in this haunting tale. Lawyer Willa Jansson finishes a miserable, lonely year with an L.A. law firm and, to the delight of her hippie parents, moves back to San Francisco to accept a clerkship with liberal federal court judge Michael J. Shanna. Willa is asked by a former boyfriend to find out for Rita Delacort the intentions of her estranged husband, Phil, should she decide to seek a divorce. After Willa talks to Phil, Judge Shanna disqualifies himself from a securities-fraud case in which Phil is an attorney, on the pretext that Willa's conversation might prejudice the case. Willa is confused at first, but later feels used--especially when she learns that Rita, a '60s radical who turned in her fellow conspirators, is part of the witness relocation program. Then Rita is killed and Willa wonders who has betrayed the woman--and hopes it is not herself. This intricate tale of duplicity with its overtones of '60s politics may initially seem self-indulgent because of narrator Willa's references to her previous adventures. However, readers who persevere will be shaken by Matera's rapier-sharp dissection of personal relationships and radical ideologies. Matera again demonstrates that she is one of today's best mystery writers. Author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Mass Market Paperbound - 196 pages - 978-0-345-37445-5
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