|Kate Wilhelm: No Defense|
Martin's Minotaur (Hardbound),
The sheriff thought so until he saw the bullet hole, then he changed his verdict to suicide.
Lara Jessup, Vinny's beautiful young wife, thinks her husband was murdered. This doesn't bother the sheriff in the least, because all the clues could just as easily point to a black widow killer out to collect on her husband's sizable insurance policy. Soon Lara finds herself arrested and charged.
Enter Barbara Holloway and her father Frank, both clever attorneys: Barbara just getting started, Frank nearly ready to retire. Both arrive willing and able to do anything the law allows -- and possibly some things it doesn't -- to prove their client innocent. Even in a case where there seems to be No Defense, because if Lara didn't do the deed, someone went to a great deal of trouble to make sure Lara is convicted for it.
Set, for the most part, in the vast high desert of Eastern Oregon (a setting that almost becomes one of the characters), No Defense delves into the history, politics, and the power structure of the land and its inhabitants. The superb cast of characters includes a biased judge, a king-maker and a man reaching for a federal judgeship.
But don't come to the book expecting the standard courtroom theatrics. Lawyers for both sides question their witnesses prior to the trial in something called "perpetuation of testimony," otherwise known as evidence de bene esse. This means the witnesses' testimony is entirely conditional and won't be used if the witnesses can attend the trial. But this in no way lessens the tension, nullifies the danger or takes away the suspense of the exceptionally snarled and twisted plot. No Defense will keep you guessing to the very end.
Patricia White is the Sapphire Award-winning author of A Wizard Scorned. Her current book, the contemporary PS, I've Taken a Lover, is available from Lionhearted Books.
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