NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE by Gus Lee

NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Overwritten, overplotted legal procedural, set in a richly atmospheric Chinese-American Sacramento, that makes a compelling point about the challenges involved in investigating and punishing sex criminals. The recent death of Chinese-American prosecutor Josh Jin’s 11-year-old daughter from congenital heart disease not only rendered him emotionally incapable of trying cases but foolish enough to ask his boss, hard-drinking District Attorney Tommy Conover, to apologize for decking a local cop. Conover retaliates by assigning Jin to prosecute a rape case that Jin is certain to lose. Caucasian 13-year old Rachel Farr, whose father and stepmother live in one of the city’s predominantly Asian districts, won’t even talk of how she suffered at the hands of ex-con “Chico” Moody, an unemployed, disabled veteran known to befriend runaway children. Though Rachel shows the psychological scars of vicious sexual abuse, she refuses to submit to a detailed physical examination. That, plus some shoddy police work, leaves Jin without physical evidence tying her to Moody, who’s represented by the beautiful, expensive, and highly competent defense attorney Stacy August, Josh Jin’s former lover. As soon as Jin, Sacramento’s only Chinese-American prosecutor, zealously pursues the case, he’s warned to drop it by city hall sleazes who are suddenly afraid that, by losing it, Jin would doom Conover’s chances for reelection. The Chinatown community, meanwhile, wants Jin to persist. Jin himself, who longs to be accepted in American society but is having a tough time staying true to his Chinese roots, can’t help but see his dead daughter in Rachel. Alas, author Lee (Tiger’s Tail, 1996, etc.), in fact a former district attorney, can—t simply tell the agonizing story of emotionally charged teenage rape cases but buries his tale in annoying complexities about nasty judges, boorish cops, and a conspiracy of closet pedophiles. Awkward legal melodrama enriched by passionate pleading for the protection of children. (Book-of-the-Month alternate selection)

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 1998
ISBN: 0-449-91139-X
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1998




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