Beneath a brawl at a kids’ baseball game lies “the biggest scandal in the history of American politics,” in this wildly implausible legal thriller from Margolin (Sleeping Beauty, 2004, etc.).
Portland lawyer Ami Vergano offers carpenter Dan Morelli the apartment over her garage because she likes his looks and she can use the rent money. But when Dan is attacked by a bullying Little League father, his violent reaction horrifies her, him and the two police officers who subdue him. A preliminary investigation reveals that Dan doesn’t exist; everything he’s told Ami about himself is a lie, and there’s no trace of his identity older than two months. He’s really Carl Rice, a U.S. Army captain neck-deep in murderous intrigue. At least that’s what tabloid reporter Vanessa Kohler tells Ami when she flies in to demand that Ami represent him. Twenty years ago, according to Vanessa, Carl, her former lover, murdered Congressman Eric Glass on orders from her father, General Morris Wingate, the commander of a top-secret unit specializing in wet work. In the aftermath of the high-profile killing, the general had his daughter committed to an asylum, and Carl disappeared. Now the general, who may have been the second assassin on the grassy knoll (!), is running for president, and Vanessa is as determined to discredit him as he is to liquidate Carl, the key witness against him. Ami, who has no experience in criminal defense, wants off the case, but she ends up defending Carl—and eventually Vanessa, who’s soon facing felony charges of her own. Who’s telling the truth, the powerful, charismatic candidate or the vengeful daughter discredited by her years in that asylum?
As if you had to ask. Except for the overlong flashbacks, Margolin’s tenth may be his best, with everything a thriller should have, except thrills.