Best known as a member of O.J.'s Dream Team, attorney Shapiro now teams up with fiction writer Becker (Link) for this issue-driven legal thriller. Though the plot bears a general resemblance to the Simpson case (national figure on trial in a televised courtroom), readers looking for dish not supplied in Shapiro's nonfiction account The Search for Justice will be disappointed. The action centers around Dr. Daniel Wyatt, "a southern white male, courtly, handsome and pro-choice," just nominated for U.S. surgeon general. Everyone considers him a shoo-in for the post, especially his colleague at a women's health clinic in Lafayette, La., Claire Davis, "a strong-willed lawyer" exuding a "powerful sexuality." But just as he steps up to the podium to accept the nomination, Wyatt is paged by Sarah Corbett, an unstable beauty with whom he recently had a fling. Sarah tells him she's pregnant, and though she professes no desire to derail Wyatt's nomination or his marriage to explosively jealous Ellen, she hesitates to get an abortion. Wyatt panics, until Claire procures some RU-486 togive to Sarah. Sarah's sudden miscarriage exposes the affair, and Wyatt finds himself accused of slipping her the abortion drug, thereby "murdering" the unborn child. Meanwhile, Peter O'Keefe, an antiabortion extremist already responsible for the deaths of several ob-gyns in Canada, plots to assassinate Wyatt, and is tracked down by handsome Latino FBI agent Eduardo Costilla. Despite the authors' musings about choice, religion, "human hubris" and destiny, this is pedestrian stuff. The characters are dull-witted and monotonously attractive, and the plot twists might be cribbed from Presumed Innocent and Fatal Attraction. Of course, the courtroom scenes are expertly rendered, but they're nothing we haven't seen on TV. Agent, David Vigliano. National ad/promo; 4-city author tour. (May 21)
Forecast: The publisher plans national ad/promo and a four-city author tour, but word of mouth on this novel will be weak, and sales will drop off after a brisk kick-off.
Release date: 06/01/2001