The Attorney, which marked the return of Steve Martini's lawyer-sleuth Paul Madriani, was hailed for its "well-observed courtroom maneuverings" (The Christian Science Monitor) and "crisp dialogue and tart observations" (Publishers Weekly). Now Martini delivers the most daunting capital case of Madriani's career.
Paul Madriani has ample reason to suspect he's representing a guilty man. Dr. David Crone, a respected medical researcher and principal in mapping the human genome, is charged with the murder of a young colleague: twenty-six-year-old Kalista Jordan, an African-American research physician whose body washed up on a beach in San Diego Bay. Forensic evidence links her murder with material in Crone's garage. Crone had both opportunity and motive: Kalista had recently ended their affair, and may have been deserting him professionally as well, moving on to a rival genetic research facility. However, when a key witness for the prosecution dies unexpectedly, leaving an incriminating note behind, Crone's innocence seems confirmed-until Madriani hits upon a potentially damning loose end.
Lean, speedy and packing a wallop of a plot twist at the end, the latest Paul Madriani legal thriller shows why Martini remains one of the form's most popular practitioners. Madriani, still struggling to establish his law practice in San Diego, is defending Dr. David Crone, a brilliant genetic researcher accused of killing colleague Kalista Jordan: her strangled and dismembered body was found washed up on a beach. Not only does all the evidence point to Crone, but his lies and deceptions are starting to test the patience of Madriani and his partner, the quick-tempered Harry Hinds. There may be motives aplenty was Jordan stealing trade secrets about human genome research from Crone's clinic and taking them to a rival company? Was Crone a spurned lover of the strikingly beautiful African-American Jordan? Did he catch her trying to sabotage his research because he previously had conducted controversial studies about the intellectual capacities of the different races? Unfortunately for the prosecution, the main witness who can shed light on motive is found dead the day before he is scheduled to testify. Not only does the apparent suicide break the prosecution's momentum, it throws the whole case into chaos. In his sixth Madriani novel, Martini (The Attorney) takes the moving parts of a standard plot and spins them for maximum effect. His secondary characters, while filling stock roles, are memorable in quirky ways, and a subplot about genetic illness in the family of one of Madriani's friends is executed with skill. Fans will happily overlook the frequently awkward, listless prose the most glaring drawback in what is otherwise one of Martini's best novels to date.