THE BEST DEFENSE by Kate Wilhelm


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 Defiantly barefoot Oregon lawyer Barbara Holloway (Death Qualified, 1991) calls a truce with her lawyer father and buys pantyhose and a proper courtroom jacket in order to defend battered wife Paula Kennerman, accused of killing her six-year-old daughter and setting fire to the women's safe house at Canby Ranch. The Dodgson family, the ranch's wealthy neighbors, are baying for the child killer's blood--a demand that dovetails neatly with the shrill, troglodyte editorial stance of Richard Dodgson's weekly paper--and it looks as if they have Paula's bright, boyish public defender, Bill Spassero, and her private-duty physician in their pockets. Enter Barbara and her tattered legions (Paula's sister Lucille Reiner, Barbara's newly supportive father, a trio of grad- student researchers), seeking to get Bill to withdraw from the case so they can mount a defense that will raise the specter of reasonable doubt and impeach Paula's abusive husband, Jack, the hysterically bullying Dodgsons and their spies and toadies, and the nationwide anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-feminist lobby. Sprawling and overlong--especially the trial sequences--but ultimately rousing, considering how much Barbara's fighting for and how much it matters.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-10937-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994


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