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 Oregon lawyer Barbara Holloway is catapulted into her latest case, defending land management agent Ted Wendover on a murder charge, when her father Frank wins the acquittal of Ted's son Teddy. The case against Teddy, the Holloways agree, is preposterous. Teddy is 28 going on 9, a man who's been stuck in a happy, well-adjusted childhood since a head injury on a school field trip 15 years ago. Now someone has killed Lois Hedrick, a classmate who was on the field trip; Harry Knecht, a teacher who tried to save Teddy from his accidental fall; and retired school principal Mary Sue McDonald--and killed them all with what looks very much like the rocks Teddy loves to collect. But a lot has happened since 1980--Lois Hedrick has been writing a dissertation on Oregon gold mining, and Harry Knecht was elected to Congress- -and the Holloways (The Best Defense, 1994, etc.) are convinced their murders have a lot more to do with a crafty land grab than with Teddy's old injury. But when Frank unexpectedly discovers an alibi for Teddy, the case against him proves to be a mere curtain-raiser for the far more convincing one against his father, whose reasons for killing Congressman Knecht only begin with the possibility that he blames him for his son's permanent childhood. In order to defend Ted, Barbara will have to put Denver consultant John Mureau, AWOL from Knecht's murder scene, on the stand. Mureau, however, has a damning history of mental illness. And the judge who's drawn the case, former prosecutor Jordan Ariel, isn't about to let Barbara's high-minded, long- winded cross-examinations come between him and a swift verdict. As usual in the Holloways' cases, veteran Wilhelm serves up far too much for comfort: Teddy's inscrutable sunniness, his family's domestic problems, Barbara's affair with John Mureau, the ungainly gold-lust intrigue, and some of the most punishing courtroom scenes on record. You've gotta feel for that poor judge. (Author tour)

Pub Date: July 29th, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-14364-8
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1996


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