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We are in San Francisco: Ricardo Arias is found dead in his apartment, the gun that killed him wedged in his mouth. The physical evidence might confirm suicide, but there is no doubt that it strongly suggests murder. The police investigation quickly uncovers a maze of emotion and conflict that surrounded the dead man in the last months of his life: an estranged wife, Terri Peralta; an ugly custody fight over their six-year-old daughter, Elena; threats of extortion; accusations of adultery; and sexual abuse of the child. And then the police uncover a murder suspect. He's Terri's new lover, Christopher Paget, a man of wealth and prominence, an extremely high-profile San Francisco defense attorney. Paget has motive - it's his son accused of abusing Elena, his personal and political plans for the future put at risk by the dead man's accusations - and his alibi is dangerously threadbare. Now, defense attorney becomes defendant. Now Paget's defense attorney, Caroline Masters - an equally high-powered lawyer and former judge - works desperately to raise reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, even as Paget and Terri struggle to preserve their future and that of their cherished children. But as the trial progresses, we begin to see that what comes to light in the courtroom may be fatefully intertwined with what threatens to remain hidden: by Paget's refusal to testify on his own behalf, by Elena's tangled loyalties, and by Terri's inability - or unwillingness - to recall the details of her own childhood trauma.
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IN

About the Author

Richard North Patterson is the author of the international bestseller Degree of Guilt. Until recently a trial lawyer, he lives in San Francisco and on Martha's Vineyard. "From the Trade Paperback edition."

Reviews

Patterson has recycled some of the characters and one of the subplots from last year's hit, Degree of Guilt, into a new novel that can still be enjoyed without knowledge of the previous one. Young Latina lawyer Teresa Peralta, aide and lover to Degree hero Christopher Paget, is fighting to get away from creepy husband Richie Arias and take daughter Elena with her, when Richie is found dead, in what looks like murder disguised as suicide. Paget is the prime suspect, and most of the book is a detailed account of his trial. It's obvious he knows more about Arias's death than he's willing to tell, to the frustration of his brilliant defense lawyer (she was the judge in Degree). Local San Francisco politics and an accusation of child molestation against Paget's teenage son contribute to this complex brew, in which, as before, narrative skill and legal know-how take precedence over characterization and credibility. The court scenes are absorbing, covering such issues as jury selection, and the lawyerly give-and-take is convincing, but the romantic interludes fail to take wing (Paget remains a cipher throughout). Any seasoned reader will spot the murderer quite early. Still, it's a long, luxuriant read that is also refreshingly free of gratuitous violence. 250,000 first printing; author tour; Literary Guild selection; simultaneous release in large-print edition and as Random House Audiobook. (Jan.)

Lawyer Patterson's bloated sequel to his best-selling courtroom novel, Degree of Guilt (LJ 12/92), is already slated for television. His new work could have been cut in half by any diligent editor-30 pages of jury selection, for instance, is enough to glaze the eyes of the most dedicated crime reader. The intense dialog and plot, however, will grab fans of Scott Turow and John Grisham, and Patterson gives readers a convincing look at San Francisco's corrupt politics. The plot concerns the death of ne'er-do-well Ricardo Arias, who may or may not have committed suicide. Because of the widely publicized custody battle waged with Arias by his ex-wife and her lover, Christopher Paget (hero of Degree of Guilt), both are investigated and Paget indicted. The author's deeply felt antiviolence theme is smoothly integrated into the narrative. Expect demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/94.]-Joyce Smothers, Monmouth Cty. Lib., Manalapan, N.J.

"A chilling success...Richard North Patterson is one of the best in the business."--"Time""Masterful...Eyes Of A Child hooks us early on...and dazzles us with courtroom strategies right up to the very end."--San Francisco Chronicle"A taut nail-biter...[that] provides the thrill of a legal hunt."--"USA Today"A main selection of The Literary Guild(c)

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