EYES OF A CHILD by Richard North Patterson


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 About the only trauma San Francisco superlawyer Christopher Paget was spared in his previous appearance (Degree of Guilt, 1993) was being put on trial for murder himself--an omission Patterson rectifies here when Chris is charged with killing the estranged husband of his associate and lover, Teresa Peralta. It hasn't been easy for Terri to leave Richie Arias, despite his manipulative irresponsibility. As the child of an abusive marriage herself, she worries that she'll never really be free of him, especially since he's ready to use threats about their five- year-old daughter, Elena, to force her to give up Chris. As Terri stumbles through Elena's custody hearings, charming, sociopathic Richie polishes his image for the psychologists and judges, extorts spiraling alimony and child support payments, sells his story to a scummy tabloid, and finally sues Chris's adored son, Carlo, for molesting Elena. Desperate Terri, watching the deadline for Carlo's hearing loom, wishes Richie were dead--and then suddenly he is, leaving her and Chris in even hotter water. The police have Chris's fingerprints at Richie's apartment, an eyewitness who saw him leaving the scene, and what looks like a clumsy attempt to stage an alibi. Chris's lawyer, Caroline Masters (the judge in the Carelli trial in Degree of Guilt), has to make do with a wacky suicide theory nobody believes, Chris's refusal to take the stand himself, and a killer instinct for the weak spots in each witness's testimony. The trial is a tour de force that will keep you holding your breath for 200 pages, but the most cunningly prepared surprises--foreshadowed by a psychologist's persistent therapy with an unresponsive Elena--don't come until after the verdict is in. Patterson's new thriller is a miracle of agonizingly focused suspense. The adversarial nature of American criminal justice has never been more brilliantly dramatized. (First printing of 250,000; Literary Guild main selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-42988-3
Page count: 608pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994


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