cover image Loose Among the Lambs

Loose Among the Lambs

Jay Brandon. Pocket Books, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-76032-8

First introduced in Brandon's Edgar-nominated Fade the Heat , San Antonio district attorney Mark Blackwell has his back to the Alamo when he prosecutes a well-connected attorney for child molestation in this dynamic courtroom drama. In the midst of a stiff reelection campaign, Blackwell's mentor, ex-DA Eliot Quinn, throws his protege a plum. Chris Davis, the accused serial child molester who has had voters on edge, will surrender to Blackwell in front of the media through his attorney, Austin Paley. Although the young victims clearly exhibit fear at court hearings and on viewing photographs of Davis's surrender, they fail to identify Davis's mug shot and what seemed an easy case falls apart. Until, that is, one victim IDs not Davis, but Paley. With other children recognizing Paley from the TV news, Blackwell ignores warnings about Paley's clout. Besieged by powerful politicians and judges, a fickle electorate and the cynical press, Blackwell doggedly keeps on the case, jeopardizing his career to back the small voice of a 10-year-old boy. Blackwell is an appealing and vulnerable protagonist surrounded by brilliantly credible supporting characters. Equally credible is Brandon's painstakingly detailed plot in which he maps out the hurdles involved when a child accuses an adult--especially a well-connected one. Literary Guild main selection; Doubleday Book Club selection. (Jan.)