John Lescroart. Dutton Books, $25.95 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-525-94575-8
Another satisfying, character-driven legal thriller will be happily embraced by new and longtime fans of master plot-weaver Lescroart (The 13th Juror; etc.). Former San Francisco cop and current defense attorney Dismas Hardy's latest assignment pits him against his rival, D.A. Sharron Pratt, whose popularity in the polls is slipping. Although averse to murder cases, Hardy tries to help an acquaintance by defending heroin addict Cole Burgess, who is accused of murdering Assistant D.A. Elaine Wager, the popular daughter of a deceased female senator. What Hardy doesn't know (nor does anyone else) is that Wager's father is Hardy's best friend, Lt. Abe Glitsky of SFPD homicide. Abe overreacts by sweating Dismas's client into a coerced confession; under media pressure for her New Age approach to criminal justice, Pratt arms for re-election by calling for the death penalty, handling the grand jury hearing along with her chief assistant and sometime lover, Gabriel Torrey. Meanwhile, Dismas's mentor, brilliant defense attorney David Freeman, chances across evidence that may link a city official to Dash Logan, an ambulance-chasing lawyer known for his scams. Abe, suspended for leaking Cole's confession, begins to doubt Coles's guilt and decides to take on the D.A. in order to track down the real killer. Lescroart brilliantly sets scenes in the hearing phase that allow credible leeway for courtroom pyrotechnics later on. The richness and diversity of the large cast neither slows the pace nor confuses the narrative, as even minor characters take on memorable presence and depth. Readers will savor the mounting tension and the many twists and turns along the way to the surprise ending. (Apr. 23) Forecast: A vigorous, six-month marketing blitz, kicked off with the release of a teaser chapter in Lescroart's Nothing But the Truth in February, should help make his latest another bestseller.
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001