In Weinberg’s debut thriller, a California lawyer defends a psychiatrist after someone stabs one of the doctor’s Vietnam veteran patients.
Dr. David Samson, who works at a Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatric compound in Hawaii, is in desperate need of legal assistance. A murdered vet lands Samson in trouble when cops believe that high doses of antidepressants were the reason for the killer’s violence. Based on a recommendation, Samson seeks help from California public defender Noah Shane. The doctor already suspects a coverup: he thinks that unknown persons, possibly from the military or the VA, are trying to stop his experimental drug tests. Later, it turns out that Army and civilian medical records for patients at the compound have strangely gone missing. Samson’s suspicions seem to be justified when there’s another murder before his trial can even begin as well as a few kidnappings. This legal thriller concentrates mainly on the thriller aspects, as Noah is rarely inside a courtroom. In fact, he spends most of his time in the later part of the novel taking part in a pseudo–court-martial held by vengeful, crazed vets. Noah’s life in general is filled with tension and suspense, which Weinberg dishes out with panache. He reveals, for example, that there’s another significant reason why Samson hand-picked Noah as his attorney—one that the psychiatrist doesn’t divulge for quite some time. Noah also seems to have genuine feelings for a trio of women: law school pal Kate Waverly, ex-prostitute/junkie Lisa Sanders, and Hawaiian attorney Stephanie Kauna-Luke. Unfortunately, his apparent fickleness diminishes his ultimate choice of relationship. However, the female supporting characters still manage to shine, particularly Stephanie, who proves herself to be a smart, competent lawyer at Samson’s trial.
An often exhilarating novel despite the fact that its lawyer protagonist gets few opportunities to display his legal wiles.