JURY DUTY by Laura Van Wormer

JURY DUTY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Van Wormer (Any Given Moment, 1995, etc.), who dedicates her fifth novel to ""the rest of the jury,"" not only served on a New York City murder trial but managed to get a good mystery-romance out of it. Did the accused--James Bennett Layton Jr., the ""poor little rich boy""--hire a hit man to murder model Sissy Cook, who spurned his advances and humiliated him in public? Did he leave her, drive his Jaguar to New Jersey, pick up the shooter, and take him back to Manhattan to blow Sissy's face off? Or did he, as he claims, black out on drugs and alcohol while someone else stole his car? Such must be decided by novelist Cornelia ""Libby"" Winslow and her fellow jurors--among them, Slicked-Back Ronnie, Wall Streeter William, Alex the Marlboro Man, Sweet Bridget, Elena from Brazil, Basha from Russia, and Eleanor from Sutton Place--while they dodge the media and simultaneously sort out the rest of their lives. Libby's career is going nowhere, she's broke, and she's just ended a demoralizing three-year relationship with lover Hal. It's not surprising, then, that she cheerfully welcomes the advances of Alex, a tall and handsome fellow juror, until he becomes proprietary and finally violent. But William, not nearly so tall or handsome, surprisingly begins to attract Libby a lot. Poor Will has been trying to unload his roommate Betsy, who came for sex a year earlier and never left. And another juror, Melissa, an advertising tyro in Donna Karan suits, has three years' sobriety in AA and is beginning to investigate her lesbianism. By the close, justice and romance will be served equally, with both a verdict and a bride. And Van Wormer, whose jury experience was obviously a memorable one, shows how Americans in an airless, overheated jury room can form powerful and rather uplifting bonds. A legal three-ring circus with brains and wit, populated with colorful New Yorkers of every stripe and class.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Crown