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Boston attorneys Gold and O’Clare (Uncommon Justice, 2001) for the defense again, this time to help their favorite gangster client beat a murder rap.

Gold’s a middle-aged Jew, O’Clare a female Irish-American Catholic; their office manager is a female African-American; and their chief investigator is an Italian-American ex-homicide cop, recently out of the closet. All this diversity is crammed into the little law firm that could—could beat legal behemoths of every description, that is, because its collective heart is pure and its store of energy boundless. These are qualities that remain intact even in behalf of an unmitigated slob like Big Ben Friedman, even when the murder that this notorious racketeer stands charged with is particularly nasty, the arranged killing of a child. Gold and O’Clare get him off, all right, but their victory is tainted by what has the appearance, at least, of jury tampering. The eponymous Juror #11, hot-looking Conchita Balaguer, has spent a disproportionate amount of trial-time gazing significantly at Mairead O’Clare, who has found the attention both mystifying and unsettling. The prosecution, however, considers it a dead giveaway: Conchita’s been bribed, it seems clear to ADA Jim Seagraves, hot-looking in his own way though dimwitted and bombastic as fictional prosecutors so often are. The trial ends. Mairead, in her office, prepping for her next win, is interrupted by a phone call. Conchita wants to hire her, Mairead learns to her astonishment, and there’s big money in the offer. Agreeing to meet at Conchita’s house, Mairead arrives to find her prospective client strung from the beam of a cathedral ceiling. Naturally, ADA Seagraves fingers bad Big Ben for this crime, too, but after multiple plot- and sub-plot twists, not a few of them extraneous, the little law firm that could, does.

Gold and O’Clare have their charm, but they tread the same old legal-thriller ground as ever, and busy readers might entertain a motion to dismiss.

Pub Date: June 10th, 2002
ISBN: 0-399-14886-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2002