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Rosenberg (Buried Evidence) rolls out a new character but not much more in this crime drama about the manipulation of a developmentally disabled young man accused of robbery. The latest in the New York Times bestselling author's string of female crime stoppers is Joanne Kuhlman, a prosecutor in Southern California trying the case of three childhood buddies who held up a 24-hour market. One of the men, Ian Decker, has a learning disability that makes it questionable whether he even knew that his friends, the rough-and-tumble Rubinsky brothers, were committing a crime. Decker's attorney finally convinces Kuhlman that justice would be better served by having the young man testify against the Rubinskys. By that time, however, Decker has not only disappeared but an anonymous caller to his mother says her son has been killed and buried in the mountains outside Los Angeles. As Kuhlman struggles with the case, she's also dogged by personal problems: her 15-year-old daughter gets pregnant, her son is feeling abandoned, her former husband is in jail on charges of child stealing and embezzlement and she longs for the steadying touch of a good man. Unlike some of her better work, like Interest of Justice, Rosenberg's latest never catches fire. Kuhlman is not a particularly memorable protagonist, and many of the other characters are prone to unrealistic behavior and clunky dialogue. Rosenberg's portrayal of Decker as a young man without the intellectual armor to make it in the world is touching at points, but it can't carry an otherwise lackluster plot. Agent, Peter Miller. National print and TV advertising. (Feb. 6) Forecast: Rosenberg might sell even more books if she settled on a single, better-developed protagonist, but six million books in print already is nothing to sniff at, and her fans can be counted on to snap up her latest. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Assistant district attorney Joanne Kuhlman doesn't need to be embroiled in a homicide case-her life is complicated enough. Her two troubled teenagers, Leah and Mike, have been recently returned to her after her former husband, their father, is arrested for child stealing and embezzlement. While Joan struggles with her angry, rebellious children, she learns that a seemingly simple case of robbery may involve the murder of Ian Decker, a developmentally disabled young man. The nave Ian is suspected of holding up a convenience store with the Rubinski brothers, childhood friends turned thugs. When Ian disappears, Joanne worries that he has been killed because he knows too much. Rosenberg, author of six best-selling legal thrillers, including Buried Evidence, writes with fast-paced energy but little depth. Her plot relies too much on coincidence, especially the feel-good conclusion. As a protagonist, Joanne seems weak and distracted, not positive qualities for a successful prosecutor or crime fighter. Laural Merlington reads competently, with a pleasant, clear voice and intonation. The tape quality is excellent; recommended for Rosenberg's loyal fans and popular fiction collections.-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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