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Written by legal legend Christopher Darden, who gained nationwide fame as one of the prosecuting attorneys during the O.J. Simpson trial, L.A. Justice is a hard-driving thriller, crafted with an insider’s understanding that real justice is always dirty.
Randy Bingham wakes in the dark, with his head throbbing, his memory blank, and a body on the floor. It’s Sherri Dietz, his fiancée, and she was killed with Randy’s gun. A spacey romantic with a mile-long streak of Catholic guilt, Randy Bingham is about to become chief suspect in the trial of the century, and he doesn’t remember a thing.
The case falls in the lap of Virgil Sykes, a hard-nosed police detective, who works with high-flying District Attorney Nikki Hill to learn what really happened in that darkened, bloody room. With the help of Sherri’s son, a ten-year-old computer whiz who was hiding upstairs when his mother was murdered, Virgil and Nikki stumble onto a wide-ranging conspiracy that threatens to undermine the very foundations of the LAPD.
While he may have struggled very publicly in court, DardenDassistant prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case turned crime authorDhas now delivered two high-octane legal thrillers in The Trials of Nikki Hill and this lively new sequel. L.A. prosecutor Nikki is working on the shooting death of artist Shelli Dietz. Shelli is, or was, the lover of wealthy wastrel Randy Bingham and the mother of Adam Noyes, a precocious 10-year-old computer whiz. Randy was passed out at the time of the murder, while young Adam was hiding upstairs. On the case for the LAPD is Virgil Sykes, Nikki's lover and reluctant partner to Dan McNeil, a career burnout and woman hater. Darden and his coauthor, veteran crime author Lochte, crosscut this slick if jumpy narrative with the taped ramblings of Patience, a dead hooker, who worked for upscale pimps Pickett and Ricky at the same time she was involved with a cop. This side plot proves distracting; moreover, characters tend to get stranded for long stretches. After Virgil is shot, he wanders into a medicated limbo, and McNeil, who grows more soiled by the page, also takes a powder. Accepting the solution to Shelli's death, as well as the identity of the Patience's murderer, requires some generosity on the part of the reader, but this novel is just the kind of frenzied page-turner many authors aspire to and few deliver. Darden's legal smarts and Lochte's sure prose touch work well in tandem.