Trading beautiful, brainy, imperiled lawyer Madison McCall (Double Reverse ,1999, etc.) for beautiful, brainy, imperiled lawyer Casey Jordan isn’t enough to rescue Green’s fourth legal suspenser from the hang-ups that sank his first three.
On the eve of his trial for the ghoulish murder of his student Marcia Sales, debonair University of Texas law prof Eric Lipton abruptly dismisses his attorney and sends word to his adoring alumna Casey that she’s to replace him—though in all but name, she’ll be sitting second chair to the defendant himself. Naturally, she agrees with alacrity (first hang-up) and follows his blueprint exactly (second hang-up) by emphasizing the violent past of Marcia’s father, Donald Sales—who she suspects has already sneaked into the jail where Lipton’s being held and tried to kill him—demanding finally that he admit whether he ever had sex with his daughter (third hang-up). Winning release for her client (fourth hang-up), Casey’s beset by new problems. She’s far from certain that he’s innocent; she’s kidnapped almost immediately by grief-crazed Don Sales, though his threats don’t go as far as actual bodily harm (fifth hang-up); and her blue-blooded husband Taylor, upon her return from the kidnapping, accuses her of having an affair (sixth hang-up). Recovering enough to send Taylor packing, she acknowledges of the kidnapping: “I almost feel like I deserved it” (seventh hang-up)—a healthy acceptance of life’s vicissitudes that paves the way for more threats, more sadomasochistic revelations, more state-of-the-art handguns, and many more hang-ups, but not an ounce of surprise, before the high-caliber, low-intelligence climax.
On the field for the Atlanta Falcons, Green once made his game look easy. But his legal thrillers make you appreciate just how hard it is to create an appealing heroine, a plausible villain, original courtroom conflicts, moral ambiguities, a rising curve of suspense, and a slam-bang ending—not one of them in evidence here.