From bestselling author Phillip Margolin, a fast-paced legal thriller packed with page-turning suspense.
Peter Hale is a young attorney struggling to make his own mark in his father's venerable law firm when he is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. During the trial of a multimillion-dollar case, Peter's father, the lead counsel, suffers a heart attack and asks Peter to move for a mistrial until he's feeling better. Peter decides this is his only chance to prove to his father that he is the terrific lawyer he knows himself to be, and he chooses to carry on with the case against his father's wishes. In his zeal to prove himself, Peter neglects his client and ends up losing everything—the case, his job, and his father.
Unemployed and disinherited, Peter takes the only job he is offered—that of a public defender in a small Oregon town. He hopes that if he can make good there, he can reinstate himself in his father's good graces. But his ambition again gets the best of him when he takes on a death-penalty case, representing a mentally retarded man accused of the brutal hatchet murder of a college coed. He's in way over his head, and it's only when Peter realizes that his greed and his ego may end up killing his client that he begins to understand what it really takes to be a good lawyer—and to become a man.
Unlike the protagonists of Gone, But Not Forgotten and After Dark, the hero of Margolin's latest legal thriller is male. But the intricate plotting and warp-speed suspense that drove those earlier novels up the bestsellers lists are here in force. With his father, a high-powered Portland, Ore., attorney, in the hospital, young and arrogant Peter Hale recklessly takes over and then fumbles a case that costs a badly crippled woman her only chance for medical care. Enraged, Peter's father disowns his son, banishing him, for one last chance, to the backwoods practice of an alcoholic public defender. Peter reluctantly agrees, but it soon becomes evident that he still has a lot to learn about humility. In Oregon, Peter gets involved with the case of Gary Harmon, the mentally retarded brother-in-law of Peter's former law school classmate Steve Mancini. Gary, who's accused of murdering a college co-ed, is also the prime suspect in a series of similar killings. Although Peter is totally without experience in a capital murder case, the ego-driven young attorney is seduced by the opportunity to redeem himself when Mancini convinces him he can become a star if he takes the case and wins. When Mancini reveals himself to be a wife-beater given to sudden rages, the atmosphere thickens as his wife--the accused's sister--turns to Peter for comfort. Complications pile up with an undercover investigation of a campus cocaine ring, and a shady, fly-by-night real estate venture. As usual, Margolin's prose is workaday and his characters boilerplate, but the man knows how to tell a legal thriller that will remind readers of the best of Erle Stanley Gardner. 150,000 first printing; Literary Guild Main Selection, Doubleday Book Club featured alternate; Reader's Digest Condensed Book; author tour.