A criminal attorney is threatened with death if she wins her first big case. Despite her discomfort with her upscale L.A. firm—her mentor, Richard Dressner, is a world-class harasser—Debra Laslow is going all out to defend Dr. Kenneth Avedon against the charge that he raped his receptionist, Penny Bailor. For everybody who asks how she can defend the man—her close-knit family, the cops, the female lawyers she's friendly with, the Bailor brother who turns up in her synagogue—she has the same answer: Accused criminals are entitled to their day in court. But she's shaken when her bitchy rival Madeleine Chase and her best friend Susan Clemens are shot to death and their tongues cut out (similar murders will follow, as you'd expect from the author of Fair Game, 1993, and Angel of Death, 1994); and, after several anonymous messages warn her, ``GET OUT OF THE WAY OF JUSTICE!,'' she finally figures out what everyone else will have guessed from the beginning—that somebody is killing lawyers who've won acquittals for accused rapists. So Debra, who can't afford to lose Avedon's case—her involvement in Madeleine's and Susan's murders has poisoned her reputation with other firms—sees that she can't afford to win it either. As the case wears on, she grows more and more suspicious of the men around her—from her new suitors, plausible ex-lawyer Jeff Silver and Orthodox contractor Adam Bergman, to hectoring cop Marty Simms— scrutinizing them with equal care as possible suspects and possible spouses. Debra's even frazzled by her old friend Claire Werner, the judge on the case, who seems determined to rule against her on every point. Savvy readers, trusting that Debra has to win the case to trip the alarm, won't be distracted. A satisfyingly sturdy yarn—all wool and a yard wide—for Faye Kellerman fans and other right-minded enemies of rapists and vigilantes.
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