A big, foursquare courtroom novel that poses the timeless riddle: Can recovering alcoholic lawyer Charley Sloan get his old lover Robin Harwell's beautiful, affectless stepdaughter Angel acquitted of killing her rich father before he gets disbarred because of demon rum or the judge's animus? Charley has his work cut out for him: the Pickeral Point (Mich.) police have the servants' testimony about Angel's threats to kill her father, Angel's fingerprints on the samurai sword used in the killing, and a videotape of her confession that she may have been responsible for his death. And Angel, with her long history of mental disturbances and her demure unresponsiveness, isn't the ideal client. Add the usual list of dragons--unreliable expert witnesses, an unsympathetic judge, a shoal of publicity hounds, the fiery baptism of national publicity, and several determined attempts by Harwell hangers-on to get Charley scratched from the case--and you can see why it's hard for Charley to enjoy the benefits to his foundering legal practice (which perks up overnight) and to his person (strong forward passes by both Robin and Angel). Detroit lawyer-judge Coughlin (Her Honor, 1987, etc.) keeps the tension up with crude but highly effective courtroom theatrics, and Charley follows the marks with a naive charm that suggests a close reading of The Verdict. Charley stays on the wagon, all right, but the clichÇs flow like bonded bourbon toward a conclusion that even your grandmother could see coming a million miles off.