NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE

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. 2, 1998

ISBN: 0-449-91139-X

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on...

MYSTIC RIVER

After five adventures for Boston shamus Patrick Kenzie and his off-again lover Angela Gennaro (Prayers for Rain, 1999, etc.), Lehane tries his hand at a crossover novel that’s as dark as any of Patrick’s cases.

Even the 1975 prologue is bleak. Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus are playing, or fighting, outside Sean’s parents’ house in the Point neighborhood of East Buckingham when a car pulls up, one of the two men inside flashes a badge, and Sean and Jimmy’s friend Dave Boyle gets bundled inside, allegedly to be driven home to his mother for a scolding but actually to get kidnapped. Though Dave escapes after a few days, he never really outlives his ordeal, and 25 years later it’s Jimmy’s turn to join him in hell when his daughter Katie is shot and beaten to death in the wilds of Pen Park, and State Trooper Sean, just returned from suspension, gets assigned to the case. Sean knows that both Dave and Jimmy have been in more than their share of trouble in the past. And he’s got an especially close eye on Jimmy, whose marriage brought him close to the aptly named Savage family and who’s done hard time for robbery. It would be just like Jimmy, Sean knows, to ignore his friend’s official efforts and go after the killer himself. But Sean would be a lot more worried if he knew what Dave’s wife Celeste knows: that hours after catching sight of Katie in the last bar she visited on the night of her death, Dave staggered home covered with somebody else’s blood. Burrowing deep into his three sorry heroes and the hundred ties that bind them unbearably close, Lehane weaves such a spellbinding tale that it’s easy to overlook the ramshackle mystery behind it all.

An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on his characters’ heads.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16316-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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