Books by Marianne Wesson

A SUGGESTION OF DEATH by Marianne Wesson
Released: Feb. 8, 2000

After a striking debut (Render up the Body, 1997), Wesson returns with a solid performance in which a mistreated young girl and a courageous lawyer battle for justice. Every lawyer knows that you never get emotionally involved with a client. And yet there's something about the waiflike Mariah McKay—daughter of Harrison McKay, a respected figure (university professor, candidate for the state senate) in Boulder, Colorado—that 40-something Cinda Hayes finds irresistible. The inner mom staking its claim, she thinks later, —an account that my life had not to that point presented." Mariah thinks her father's done something unspeakable to her, something so awful that the details have been repressed, though the damage resulting has blighted her life. Guesting on a radio show, Cinda describes the "intimate torts" done by people closely related to their victims. Mariah wants to know more, thinking it could be the basis of a suit against her father. Cinda has doubts, but when powerful forces from the McKays to an ugly local militia group warn her off, her skepticism becomes a steely resolve she shares with some unlikely allies. Pike Sayers, for instance, is a self-styled common-law judge as enigmatic as he is charismatic, with friends and admirers in the vicious militia. At length, Cinda and Mariah bring their suit, and the stage seems set for the obligatory courtroom showdown—only it isn't. Resolution happens another way, more somber and more poignant. The tale begins well, then bogs down in maundering and digression before recovering to finish strongly. Wesson's prose style is both careful and pleasing, her heroine so likable that you'll forgive the walkabout. (Author tour) Read full book review >
RENDER UP THE BODY by Marianne Wesson
Released: Jan. 1, 1998

Newcomer Wesson, a prosecutor-turned-defense-attorney, melds Dead Man Walking with the legal thriller formula in her provocative debut. Months after she's left her job in the D.A.'s office to head the Boulder Rape Crisis Center, Lucinda Hayes gets leaned on by her old teacher, now Colorado Supreme Court Justice Hilton James, to go back to the courtroom by handling the habeas corpus appeal of Jason Smiley, on his way to the death house for raping and murdering his blue-blooded lover Nicole Caswell. Smiley insists he's innocent, but Cinda knows that under Colorado law (as in most other states), claims of innocence, however well documented, aren't grounds in a habeas corpus action. But as she casts around for the sort of legal grounds that might give her client a chance—improper jury instructions, errors in interpreting the laws of felony murder, omitted warnings that might have violated Smiley's constitutional rights—she begins, to her amazement, to turn up evidence that indicates that maybe, just maybe, Smiley might be telling the truth about the crime. Of course, Cinda's colleagues at the Rape Crisis Center, horrified at her spirited defense of Smiley, recoil as if their director had sprouted horns, and she ends up losing both friends and job; her best friend, Assistant D.A. Victoria Meadows, won't take her calls for weeks on end; and even Hilton James suddenly blows cold when he finds out she's actually been researching cases that might offer some precedent for sneaking exculpatory evidence into a habeas corpus case. Just when you think Cinda's headed for a courtroom showdown and a heartfelt, predictable embattled-heroine conclusion, Wesson detonates the first of a series of bombshells that keep his heroine scrambling until the final satisfying surprise. Legal eagles may be disappointed by the perfunctory courtroom scenes. For everyone else, though: an audacious, unsettling mixture of legal suspense and morality play. (Book-of- the-Month Club alternate selection) Read full book review >