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Yes, it’s another bulky debut by a lawyer about the intricacies of a murder case—as overlong and overfamiliar as the O.J.


It's Mike Daley's penultimate day as a partner at Simpson and Gates, the giant law firm headquartered in San Francisco.

He's been fired. The language of termination is polite enough, but the truth is he hasn't pulled his weight, and he knows it.

Moreover, he doesn't much care. A former hard-nosed public defender, his style is all wrong for the rarefied corporate atmosphere

of S&G, and hiring on there was a mistake he's long privately acknowledged. Now that he's been propelled toward freedom, he

plans to open "the law offices of Michael J. Daley, criminal defense attorney"—which, as it happens, gets its first case even

before Mike departs S&G’s premises. That very night, a partner and the beautiful associate who was once his lover are found

shot to death in the partner's office, and a third S&G lawyer is subsequently charged with the double-murder. At first the case

against Joel Friedman, Mike’s best friend, seems ersatz indeed, circumstantial evidence hastily cobbled together by an ambitious

though not particularly competent D.A. The case gains credibility, however, when Joel is caught in several damaging lies. By then,

even Mike has moments of disconcerting doubt. Joel hires his old buddy to defend him; Mike assembles a motley team that

includes his ex-wife as second chair; and the ill-assorted crew prepares to take on powerful enemies in and outside the courtroom.

Naive to the point of fecklessness, Joel has done an impeccable job of stacking the deck against himself, but Mike, of course,

is equal to the challenge and gets an exhaustive, lovingly detailed 200-page trial in which to prove it.

Not the worst legal thriller a lawyer-novelist ever generated, but all those pages between rewards may make readers yearn

for a continuance.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 2000
ISBN: 0-553-80141-4
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2000


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