cover image The Wrong Man

The Wrong Man

David Ellis. Putnam, $26.95 (392p) ISBN 978-0-399-15828-5

A wicked sense of humor and an appealing lead lift Ellis’s third legal thriller featuring Midwestern prosecutor-turned-defense lawyer Jason Kolarich (after 2011’s Breach of Trust), though Kolarich tends to act more like Jack Ryan than Perry Mason. When paralegal Kathy Rubinkowski is gunned down near her apartment, the case against Iraqi war veteran Tom Stoller is clear-cut. Stoller was apprehended with the murder weapon and the victim’s purse near the scene of the killing. Since his mental state is questionable, Stoller’s aunt prevails on Kolarich to represent him. The attorney comes to believe that Stoller’s apparent confession was actually referring to a horrific incident that happened during wartime, but as Kolarich is the second defense lawyer on the case, the judge allows him little time or leeway to gather supporting evidence. Toward the end, the plot veers into Tom Clancy territory with some sacrifice of plausibility. Given the heavy-handed telegraphing, few will be surprised by the revelation of the final secret. Agent: Susanna Einstein, LJK Literary Agency. (June)