Ballantine, Feb 2004, 25.95, 368 pp.
Some crimes are more repulsive than others are, as Major Mike Morelli of the Tulsa PD Homicide Division knows very well. He along with the FBI and a swat team are trying to rescue an eight-year-old boy who was kidnapped eight days ago. The police know where they are and plan to neutralize the kidnappers so they will not kill the boy. When they finally make a move, the child is unharmed but the kidnappers are missing.
In Chicago, two homophobic college men beat a gay bartender within an inch of his life but they leave him alive when they walked away. His body was found in the perpetrator's fraternity house very much dead. When one of the defendants and his lawyer is killed in open court, the remaining defendant's mother asks lawyer Ben Kincaid to defend him. He declines for personal reasons but his partner agrees to take the case not realizing everyone connected to the case is in danger because it is linked back to the kidnapping in Tulsa.
William Bernhardt is one of the best writers of legal thrillers in today's competitive sub-genre. His protagonist is a vulnerable champion of the underdog who believes everyone has the right to an attorney. The reason he refuses the case involving a relationship he had with the suspect's mother that ended badly and gives the reader a glimpse into his battered soul. When he becomes involved in the case, he does not let his personal feelings interfere with the job and readers will root for him to prevail even though they detest the person he represents.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner