It's not easy to kill 120 people, especially if you never wanted to hurt a soul. But that's what D.C. attorney Michael Ashmore is charged with in Genberg's highly original debut. Only last year, Michael used the notion of ``reckless homicide''—irresponsible and malicious disregard of known dangers that have led to someone's death—in a brilliant but futile effort to win damages for his brother Charlie after Charlie's daughter was killed in a preventable accident. Now, when Charlie—pushed to the edge by his bereavement and his tattered marriage, then fired from his job flying planes for Brandon Airlines after he tests positive for Seconal use—pleads with Michael, Brandon's corporate counsel, to help get his job back, Michael persuades CEO Philip Brandon to order a new drug test—then, when Charlie tests positive, conceals the results from Brandon and orders another test. No sooner has Charlie returned to the skies than his flight from La Guardia to National crashes, killing him and everyone else on board. It doesn't matter, claim D.C. investigators, that Charlie got bad advice from ground control that took him into a treacherous storm; it doesn't matter that the airplane may have had a design flaw. What matters is that Charlie, who'd taken a massive dose of phenobarbital, either intended to kill himself or didn't care how dopey he was at the controls. Either way, Michael should never have urged Brandon to take him back. As his former buddies line up for their chance to avoid prosecution by selling him out, Michael slowly realizes that he's going to be put on trial for reckless homicide himself—and that if his present-day lover (the associate who's defending him) doesn't prevail over his former lover (Charlie's vengeful ex), he'll be spending the rest of his life behind bars. Genberg writes a mean courtroom scene, and the supersonic pace will keep you turning pages, even if the story does depend a little too obviously on a series of bombshells that drop without warning from the stratosphere.
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