A standard legal thriller padded nearly to epic extent, this about a young man who stands trial for the bombing of an abortion clinic in.
Sloan’s breezy, banal prose recalls the question Noel Coward allegedly asked Edna Ferber: Do you whistle while you write? But, like Ferber, Sloan (An Isolated Incident, 1998, etc.) can hook a reader despite pedestrian writing. She lands her bait when she brings on Corey Dean Latham. Latham is the only suspect Seattle police can arrest for destroying the Family Services Center and leaving nearly 200 dead. But no way, attorney Dana McAuliffe thinks, did the young, clean-shaven, blue-eyed naval officer from Iowa do it. Not even if he was steamed when his wife aborted their child without telling him. McAuliffe takes his case. Onto the scene come Larry King, Dan Rather, Barbara Walters (interviewing the boy’s parents), pro-lifers, anti-abortionists, a panel of jurors, survivors of the bombing, two presidential candidates, assorted family members, and two homeless men. A keen attorney, Dana pretty much sails through the rather uncomplicated trial. But out-of-court events threaten Dana and her case. Someone from McAullife’s prestigious law firm may be tampering with the jurors. With Latham conveniently incarcerated, his wife is getting cozy with an old flame. And a sleazy tabloid reporter is seducing Dana’s needy friend Judith for the dirt on Dana. He learns that when Dana was in line for a major promotion at her firm, she, too, aborted a child and didn’t tell her husband. The story breaks and Dana’s husband leaves her. Summing up the explosive issues of the case for the jury, Dana makes the understated observation that there are two sides to the story. A somewhat surprising coda underscores her point.
From voir dire to verdict, the reader can whistle right along.