cover image No Lesser Plea

No Lesser Plea

Robert K. Tanenbaum. Franklin Watts, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-09783-0

Tanenbaum has written an exceptionally good contemporary novel about the criminal justice system. Set in New York during the early '70s, the book focuses on young, idealistic assistant D.A. Butch Karp and his conflicts with both a single criminal and the politicized bureaucracy that seemingly makes a travesty of justice. In his first murder case, Karp is prosecuting Mandeville Louis, a brilliant killer who has feigned insanity, hoping to protect himself from trial until the court system eventually forgets about him. But the determined Karp refuses to let Louis's ruse succeed. While Karp is trying to put Louis behind bars, he is also caught up in the politics of the D.A.'s office as petty bureaucrats struggle for control of their turf and power. An attorney himself, Tanenbaum has infused this book with a strong collection of characters, a raunchy energy that crackles in the out-of-office lawyer talk and a basic sense of outrage at a system that is failing miserably. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo. (May 27)