The formulaic plot has room for two surprises, one of them a honey; the dewy-eyed characters, all earnest proponents of The...

UNCOMMON JUSTICE

A fledgling Boston lawyer quits her white-shoe firm for the real world, which here bears an uncanny resemblance to a network TV pilot.

Sitting on a park bench wondering what she's going to do about the dressing-down she's just gotten from the head of litigation, Mairead O'Clare is befriended by scruffy veteran attorney Sheldon Gold, who offers to let her an office in his place and throw some work her way. And bang! she's out of the gate on her first criminal case, the murder of homeless Zoran Draskovic, the self-styled "Old Man River" who was beaten to death on the bank of the Charles with a shillelagh belonging to Shel's pro bono client, who calls himself Alpha. Pseudonymous Devane, being a bit of a sentimentalist, makes Mairead an orphan raised by nuns and Shel a kindly older feller who does his best to cope with the wife who's been institutionalized after leaving their son in his stroller for just a minute and returning to find him gone; Shel's investigator, ex-cop Pontifico ("the Pope") Murizzi, refuses to work for any clients unless he's convinced they're innocent; and Alpha, when Mairead visits him in the jail she has to ask directions to, is calm, well-spoken, and a-twinkle with Irish charm. Refusing to cop a plea to a crime he didn't commit or, at first, to take part in his own defense, Alpha later tells the good souls turning over likely leads (a wealthy environmentalist whose boat Alpha had thrown stones at, a construction company he may have stolen building materials from, some college kids who once beat him up) that all will be revealed when he takes the stand, and eventually, he does.

The formulaic plot has room for two surprises, one of them a honey; the dewy-eyed characters, all earnest proponents of The Law As It Ought To Be, are less surprising than Perry Mason.

Pub Date: April 2, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14717-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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