UNDER OATH

Former prosecutor McLean juggles a vast cast of characters in this courtroom drama, her second legal thriller, set in the crime-ridden Boston neighborhood of Charlestown.

Readers met quirky defense attorney Buddy Clancy in McLean’s first novel (Under Fire, 2011). This time Clancy is defending a not-so-innocent drug dealer and killer named Billy Malone, who prevails as the scourge of Charlestown. Feisty prosecutor Annie Fitzgerald, an Asian American despite her Irish name, has joined forces with Boston Homicide Det. Mike Callahan, whose career-long crusade to put Malone out of business and in prison has taken him to dark places. This time the pair have Charlestown’s resident bad boy up on a charge of killing a young artist named Trevor Shea, whose insightful and lifelike paintings take the viewer deep into the souls of his subjects. Trevor, who died after using some particularly potent heroin, left behind a collection of paintings depicting Charlestown’s more famous murder victims. Annie believes those paintings hold the key to solving Trevor’s death and races the clock to find more of them, as well as the key that links them together. But she has her work cut out for her: In addition to a garrulous and uncooperative juror who spills the jury’s secrets, she’s also battling the one person who should want to see the case against Malone succeed, Trevor’s brother Chris. While Annie tries to keep the prosecution’s witnesses from being picked off one-by-one, she finds that she cares almost too much about getting Malone off the streets once and for all. As for Clancy, he struggles with his representation of the repugnant Malone, but justifies his defense by claiming he’s doing it to ensure the sanctity of Malone’s constitutional rights. McLean writes trial scenes well and distinguishes herself by moving some of the action out of the courtroom. However, she also requires the reader to suspend common sense and swallow the premise that the present guardians of Boston’s justice system routinely behave like a bunch of squabbling kids fighting over whose turn it is at bat. Melodramatic and implausible in places, but still entertaining.  

 

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2813-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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