An attorney specializing in death row appeals discovers plenty of reasons to plead for clemency for her client.
When her husband committed suicide, Janet Moodie blamed herself. So did some of her friends. Retreating to a small cottage north of San Francisco, she continues to work on death row cases. Her newest client, Marion “Andy” Hardy, was convicted 15 years ago, along with his younger brother, Emory, of rape, murder, and kidnapping. Emory got life in prison; Andy, whose lawyer didn’t put up much of a defense, was sentenced to death. Now it’s up to Janet to find holes in that defense that could change his sentence to life. The lawyer who’ll eventually appear in court confides that Andy’s controlling mother, Eva, is bound to learn anything Janet tells Andy. Janet and Dave Rothstein, a close friend of her husband who’s helping her as an investigator, quickly realize that Andy has mental disabilities that could mitigate his sentence. But Eva, who’s never acknowledged his problems, fights them tooth and nail when they try to get Andy evaluated. It’s hard to believe that Andy, a sweet boy who was bullied by Emory and his friends, could have planned or committed the crimes, even after his father, an alcoholic who abused Eva and the kids, suddenly vanished from their lives. Janet and Dave crisscross California and nearby states interviewing family members and friends and relatives of the dead girls and turn up a great deal of new information. Can they uncover the secrets that will help the hapless Andy?
The author’s work as a defense attorney handling death penalty cases brings authenticity to an exciting debut that focuses on providing grist for the slow-moving wheels of the criminal justice system.