THE JUDGE by Steve Martini


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 Great news for California lawyer Paul Madriani: His nemesis, Judge Armando (``the Coconut'') Acosta, has been charged first with solicitation and then with murder. Madriani's only problem is that, against all odds, the judge has become his client. It happens like this: Acosta's vendetta against Madriani's client Sgt. Tony Arguillo, alleged to have cooked the Police Association's books, collapses when Acosta is picked up for offering to pay reserve police deputy Brittany Hall for the kinds of favors Madriani has always assumed he enjoys. But the audiotape Hall made of their encounter turns up silent (some technical glitch) and then so does Hall herself, bludgeoned to death. Arguillo's cousin Lenore Goya--the prosecutor whose preparation of the solicitation case is ended when D.A. Coleman Klein, a political comer who doesn't like subordinates who stand up to him, cuts her loose--agrees to take on the Coconut's defense. But her attempt to join the solicitation charge with the homicide backfires when her status as Acosta's former prosecutor forces her to step aside, and Madriani's left holding the bag. The case against Acosta--no alibi, a highly improper appointment on Hall's calendar for the afternoon of the murder, forensic evidence that places her body inside his car, his broken eyeglasses left at Hall's place, except for a sliver lodged in her foot--lacks only an eyewitness. No, the only eyewitness, Hall's five-year-old daughter Kimberly, can place both Goya and Madriani himself on the scene. Meantime, the Police Association has been working overtime to discredit Madriani in order to burn the judge. The resulting legal/extralegal slugfest (marred only by Madriani's endless glosses on every action and every speech, as if he were a color commentator on a baseball broadcast) has something for everybody, even readers who think they can see every twist coming. Not as dense with surprises as Undue Influence (1994), but right up there with the rest of Martini's dependable output: a guaranteed rush for fans of courtroom drama. (Literary Guild main selection; Mystery Guild selection)

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 1996
ISBN: 0-399-14043-3
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1995


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