Distinguished physician Gerald Braun shoots Ron Martin, his daughter's confessed killer—who got off with six years—in front of two police officers but gets out on his own recognizance after his rabbi, Daniel Winter, argues his case before the court. When Martin's slick lawyer, Leonard Goode, whom Braun had publicly threatened, is found dead four days later, the police pick up Braun, who swears his innocence to Rabbi Winter. And no wonder, since L.A. is crawling with other suspects—the ex-wife Goode wouldn't give a religious divorce to; the second wife who was prevented by a prenuptial agreement from leaving him for her detective-story-writer lover; the gangster whose case he'd lost (and whose wife he was now carrying on with). But Teluskin (The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, etc.) is less interested in scattering clues than in dramatizing the debate among different notions of legal and moral justice advanced by the real-life cases he cites in a headnote and addresses in a tendentious epilogue. Not entirely satisfactory as either detective story or moral exemplum—but Teluskin keeps the pot boiling briskly until the end.
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