Putnam, Oct 2003, 24.95, 295 pp.
In Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Judge Barbara Pitt presides over the headline news criminal case in which Father Cornelius Xavier Dooley is accused of sexually assaulting twenty-three boys. However, as Her Honor is in the media spot light, she asks her former law school lover criminal defense attorney Sheldon Gold to subtly investigate. To insure political correctness by balancing the female non-Catholic judge, Legal Research Services sends a male Catholic clerk Charles Vareika to assist Barbara. She confesses to Shel, his legal secretary, and his associate that she slept with the clerk who has since vanished. She fears for her reputation, but also the impact on the trial.
Shel and his team, including a private sleuth, make inquiries by interviewing associates of the missing person, trial fanatics, and the Catholic priest on trial. As they dig deeper, Barbara seems more unsavory by the moment and Dooley appears quite deranged, but Charles remains missing.
Though the key cast members, especially the Judge and the priest, speak stilted English that feels artificial rather than normal free flow conversation, fans will appreciate the honesty, perseverance, and temerity displayed throughout by Shel and his team. The story line moves forward at quite a clip as the trial plays an intriguing backdrop and enhancer to the missing person's investigation. The insight into the mean streets of Beantown and the close look at the Suffolk County legal system add depth to this action-packed novel. Fans of legal thrillers in which an exciting investigation supersedes the court room drama will enjoy A STAIN UPON THE ROBE.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner