NAKED JUSTICE by William Bernhardt

NAKED JUSTICE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hangdog Tulsa lawyer Ben Kincaid (Cruel Justice, 1996, etc.) is stuck with another hopeless case--a mayor who allegedly killed his wife and daughters. How's this for an original opening? Handsome, magnetic Wallace Barrett, a former football player turned politician, has a public argument with his wife over their two young girls; hours later, a neighbor who's heard cries from his house sees Barrett bolting the scene, leading the police on a dramatic high-speed chase until he crashes his car into a three-count indictment. Faster than you can say O.J., Barrett's retained feckless Ben, whom he's convinced is on the likely trial judge's good books. Barrett figures he'll need all the help be can get, because his late wife's sister, buff exercise counselor Cynthia Taylor, is already peddling a book about him larded with allegations of domestic abuse, and the D.A.'s office, headed by Ben's nemesis Jack Bullock, has stopped looking for another suspect. Meantime, Ben, who's been struggling to take care of the apathetic nephew his decamped sister's parked with him, keeps flashing back to painful memories of his own late father's indictment for murder. He's being sued by a TV station for smashing a camcorder (in defense of Cynthia Taylor, no less). And he's being stalked by someone who keeps threatening him with the tag line ""Sick heart . . . You're next."" Will Ben's investigator be able to identify the suspicious figure spotted taking money from the sleazy acting mayor? Will Barrett take the stand in his own defense? Will Ben, like Lt. Columbo, eventually realize what most readers will have seen from the beginning? Will all the evidence finally come together with a single satisfying snap? Yes, yes, yes, no. Ben turns in a creditable job in the courtroom (and runs a mean five-minute mile), but not even the dream team could pull all the threads of this tangled case together.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1997
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Ballantine