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 When his defense of Lawrence Pagels on a murder charge stalls, Edgar Stassen nervously mops his brow and shifts to the wildest legal argument you're ever likely to hear, in fiction or out. Unflappable Pagels has been arraigned on the strength of two bits of evidence: a spot of John Nields's blood was found on the tailgate of his van, and his five-year-old grandson Daniel was discovered in Nields's house, ten miles from his own home, when police broke in to find Nields's body. How could the boy have made the trek and gotten inside (without setting off the burglar alarm) if his grandfather hadn't brought him and distractedly left him behind? But when witnesses place Daniel at both houses at exactly the same time, wily, rumpled Stassen is ready for the argument that Lawrence Pagels asked him to try: Daniel's intense desire to see the Nields puppies caused him to be instantly teleported to the house, in a startlingly novel display of post-Einsteinian physics, argued in unexpected detail by unwilling Stassen and his creator (whose earlier novels, Focusing and Love and Hunger, didn't exactly prepare for this one). Unfortunately, despite the fascination of watching two sets of bemused lawyers slug it out over the laws of the physical universe, nothing else here equals--or entirely justifies--this extravagant premise: certainly not the clipped prose, the electron-thin characters, the obligatory romantic subplots (Stassen's two assistants, Daniel's errant mother and a rough-hewn cop), or the overextended climax, which you can see coming from billions and billions of miles away. Hands down, though, the finest courtroom tale of quantum mechanics ever written. Don't try this at home, kids.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-684-19366-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1991