In her third appearance, Oregon defense attorney Amanda Jaffe (Ties That Bind, 2003, etc.) takes on a CSI tech who thinks he’s God.
Bernie Cashman, forensic expert at the Oregon state crime lab, loves his job, and he’s terrific at it. The trouble is that he’s nuts. He thinks it’s perfectly fine to fake whatever evidence is necessary to send the folks he’s decided are guilty to the slammer. Anything less would be a shirking of his professional responsibility. He’s been acting like God for years as the occasion warrants, pleased as punch with the results, until his colleague Mary Clark semi-accidentally catches him at it. It’s a discomfiting development that leaves Cashman with a moment of clarity: The woman has to be murdered. All his splendid work in support of Oregon law enforcement hangs in the balance. It turns out that murdering Mary entails framing another kind of nutcase—poor, unbalanced, homeless Jacob Cohen, custom-made for a role as scapegoat. But once Amanda puts in an appearance on Jacob’s behalf, Cashman’s brought to book by means of a little bit of luck wrapped around a modicum of human folly.
Margolin is never going to be a poster boy for stylish prose, but this is a briskly paced, cleverly plotted, long-overdue switch on all those heroic forensics guys.