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A criminal prosecutor returns as a judge with a target on her back in this fifth installment of a series.

After many years as a prosecutor, Dana Hargrove finds herself on the other side of the bench. It turns out being a trial judge on the New York Supreme Court is just as exciting as being an attorney, particularly when presiding over the cases of two high-visibility defendants. Suzy Spinnaker is a former tech millionaire charged with the murder of her business partner, Connor Davidson. When the jury convicts her of manslaughter, Dana must decide her sentence. Garth Underwood is an orthopedist who sold pills on the side—until two people ended up dead. To make matters stranger, the judge’s younger sister, Cheryl Hargrove, is currently playing a district attorney based on Dana on a hit television show called Plain Justice. The home front doesn’t offer much respite. Dana and her husband, Evan Goodhue—who recently became a law professor—have grown distant from each other in the absence of their children, now away at college. Then a threatening letter arrives at Dana’s office. Soon Evan gets one at school. Someone is trying to influence Dana’s rulings, but who? And how far will they go? Kemanis (Your Pick, 2018, etc.) writes in a precise prose that elucidates the stakes of the cases while delving into the interior lives of her characters: “Allow the evidence or exclude it—either way, Judge Hargrove’s reputation is on the line, just like it is in the Spinnaker case. Suzy again. Not now! She pushes that case to the back of her mind. Sentencing is still a month away.” The author takes time to build her characters—Cheryl and Evan are drawn with the same complexity as Dana—and this gives greater emotional depth to the story than one often finds in legal thrillers. Each book in the series—the earliest of which is set in 1988—jumps six or seven years ahead in Dana’s life: a bold strategy to show how much a lawyer can change over the course of her career. This tale stands well enough alone, but those who read it will want to go back and discover the previous volumes.

A finely crafted legal thriller with fully realized characters.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-9997850-5-8
Page count: 331pp
Publisher: Opus Nine Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
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