Moment of Truth

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9780007100330: Moment of Truth

Heart-stopping legal thriller from the woman who leaves John Grisham and Scott Turow in the shade with her fast-paced storytelling and witty dialogue. When Jack Newlin comes home to find his wife dead on the floor of their elegant dining room, he's convinced he knows who killed her - and determined that the murderer should escape detection. Making a split-second decision, he sets about doctoring the evidence in order to frame himself for the crime. And to hammer the final nail in his coffin, he hires the most inexperienced lawyer he can find: Mary DiNunzio of Philadelphia law firm Rosato and Associates. Unfortunately for Jack, hiring Mary could turn out to be a big mistake. Inexperienced she may be, but Mary soon discovers that instead of defending the usual guilty client who claims to be innocent, she has an innocent client falsely proclaiming his guilt.

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Review:

Moment of Truth begins with what appears to be an open-and-shut case. Jack Newlin, a wealthy attorney with one of the most influential law firms in Philadelphia, killed his wife in a moment of drunken passion, stabbing her repeatedly when she announced she wanted a divorce. Or at least that is what he is claiming to the police.

The fact is, Jack is framing himself because he fears his wife's murder was his daughter's crime of passion. Sixteen-year-old Paige Newlin is a successful model whose relationship with her manager-mother had been famously rocky. To make sure that he's convicted, Jack hires rookie lawyer Mary DiNunzio to defend him. But Mary doesn't buy Jack's story, and neither does the senior detective on the case. In a fascinating turn on the usual courtroom tale, then, Jack struggles to maintain his false story of guilt while his lawyer and the police struggle to prove him innocent. Meanwhile, Mary wrestles with both her uncertainty as a lawyer and with her attraction for her client.

Lisa Scottoline, often identified as the "female John Grisham," has led the pack of female authors in the legal thriller genre, winning an Edgar for her second novel, Final Appeal. Moment of Truth does have moments that don't, in fact, ring true. Why is Jack Newlin so quick to forgive his daughter when he thinks she's killed her own mother? And if he's so concerned with her welfare, why did he absent himself from her upbringing? But it's nonetheless interesting for its innovative plot conceit and its examination of high-profile murder trials. If one is able to overlook the problems with Newlin's motivation, the story Scottoline weaves is a compelling one, and her heroine, Mary, is an enjoyable, self-doubting twist on the super-lawyer at the center of most legal thrillers. --Patrick O'Kelley

About the Author:

Moment of Truth is Lisa Scottoline's seventh novel. Like her previous books, it draws on her experience as a trial lawyer A native Philadelphian, she lives with her family in the Philadelphia area.

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