SEMIAUTOMATIC by Robert Reuland
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Brooklyn ADA Andy Giobberti (Hollowpoint, 2001) returns to the Homicide Bureau—and makes most other courtroom novels seem clueless.

They’d kicked him upstairs to Appeal—they being DA Whitey Fister and his lickspittle second-in-command, Mark Luther. Two years of deprivation—no judges, no juries, no wins, no losses, no adrenalin rush—and, with a man as attuned to edginess as Andy Giobberti, you’re talking cruel and unusual. Never mind that the exile was largely his own fault. Sure, they were no-goods, Fister and Luther, but Andy—for reasons too complex to permit easy analysis—had supplied them with the opening, left a glass jaw unguarded, and been cold-cocked accordingly. Now, suddenly, they wanted him back for People vs. Haskin Pool. What, he had to wonder, made the case political dynamite? On the surface, at least, it appeared straightforward enough. A vicious Brooklyn street kid knocks over a bodega and murders the owner in front of an eyewitness willing to testify. With jury selection just around the corner, why jerk the case from the ADA who’d been running it? True, Laurel Ashfeld is young, relatively inexperienced, and more nervous than seems warranted. Or so Andy thinks when finally he’s allowed to speak to her. But maybe it isn’t nerves; maybe she just doesn’t like him. At any rate, the closer he gets to the case, the more Looking Glass it becomes: perp, victim, and eyewitness, for instance, infuriatingly unstable in the roles originally ascribed to them. Frustrations escalate, pressure mounts, and moral ambiguity converts case law to a mockery. Still, choices have to be made, but as the critical moment approaches, Andy is forced to acknowledge: “There are only wrong moves left.”

Reuland is a real-life ADA, and if he prosecutes as effectively as he writes, Brooklyn is a lucky borough.

Pub Date: June 15th, 2004
ISBN: 0-375-50502-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2004