REASONABLE DOUBT by Philip Friedman


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Another taut and suspenseful story from Friedman (Rage, 1972; Termination Order, 1979), here drawing on his law background to probe matters of trust and upper-crust family loyalty as a murder case comes to trial. Michael Ryan's career as an attorney has seen better days. Once a hotshot federal prosecutor, the inspiration for a generation of younger colleagues, he hasn't been in court in years, not since coming unglued during a case when his wife was killed in a smash-up and his son Ned blamed him. Now Ned is dead too, viciously bludgeoned with a piece of sculpture at a Manhattan gallery owner's party following a nasty public scene with his wife Jennifer. She's charged with the crime and comes to Ryan for help; he finds himself taking her side, despite lingering doubts and the fact that he's never handled a case for the defense. A young, tough, and sharp defense attorney, Kassia Miller, is enlisted to back him up; and when his old nemesis from law school, now the Manhattan D.A., decides to prosecute the case himself, the battle is fully joined. But the prosecution has the advantage of the latest DNA technology, while Ryan & Miller struggle with a difficult defendant who's less than frank with them. Forced not only to contend with his estranged, now dead, son's shady business habits (including oodles of laundered drug money) and his adultery, Ryan also discovers that Jennifer had a lover as well, and that the unborn grandchild he thought he was protecting by taking the case may not be his. The pot boils over, with Ryan blowing hot and cold about his own abilities, and unable to make up his mind about his daughter-in-law's innocence as the painful truth emerges in court; the case certainly isn't closed when the jury returns its verdict. A hard-to-put-down thriller, if at times heavy on the morality, with menace lurking outside the halls of justice, and polished pyrotechnics within.

Pub Date: March 29th, 1990
Publisher: Donald Fine