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First Offense
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Action dominates Rosenberg's third novel: Within a very few pages, for instance, probation officer Ann Carlisle affronts a sexist judge, engages in steamy sex in a county-building stairwell, and is shot. Deeply involved with impulsive, controlling Assistant District Attorney Glen Hopkins, Ann also juggles her career and motherhood. Mother and young son are grieving over the disappearance of Ann's police officer husband, a wound time seems unable to heal. Though Ann and David have good support, primarily from Det. Sgt. Tom Reed, surrogate father and grandfather, the Carlisles must ultimately confront their personal problems on their own even as a killer pursues Ann, whose escalating professional difficulties raise serious questions about the judicial system. Unfortunately, the intense reader identification these factors should generate never surfaces. Despite the fast pace and the detailed background, Ann Carlisle remains a somewhat interesting but not truly engaging protagonist. For popular mystery collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/94.]-Jane S. Bakerman, Indiana State Univ., Terre Haute

America's most popular champion of vigilantism ( Mitigating Circumstances ) returns with another button-pushing melodrama showing how a spunky heroine who takes the law into her own hands can bring down any villain. Rosenberg's new angel of vengeance is California probation officer Ann Carlisle, beautiful blonde and single mom. Ann doesn't kill for justice, as one previous Rosenberg heroine did; she merely illegally breaks-and-enters in order to get her man. But the author makes up for the relatively demure action by linking it to a mug book's worth of the law's failures, including a wrongly convicted felon, a sadistic cop and an overly ambitious DA. The busy plot buzzes with suspense and intrigue: Was it Ann's new drug-dealing probationer who shot her in the shoulder? Is it he who breaks into her house and molests her? Why is her prosecutor-paramour so eager to see an accused rapist behind bars? And has Ann's cop-husband, missing for four years, returned from the grave to make cryptic phone calls? Just when readers will have figured all the angles, savvy Rosenberg unveils the villain and flips the plot into an exciting manhunt, with Ann as bait. Offering plenty of sex and violence--and violent sex--plus a vigorous plucking of heartstrings, Rosenberg notches up another crowd-pleasing page-turner. Paperback rights to Signet; Literary Guild main selection; audio to Penguin HighBridge; author tour. (Aug.)

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