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His father's death on a deserted road is regarded as a natural passing, but Sergeant Joe Brown suspects foul play. He has his suspicions, and when his prime suspect is suddenly found dead too, he is charged with the murder. With Brown's reputation and career at stake, it's up to prosecutor Gardner Lawson to defeat flamboyant defense attorney Kent King in a trial that will take many shocking twists and turns before arriving at its shattering conclusion.
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Hardheaded Maryland State's Attorney Gardner Lawson (Silent Son, 1994, etc.) wades back into the ring for a third face-off against Prince of Darkness Kent King, Esq. The case begins with the killing of Sgt. Joe Brown's father by a masked man who induces a fatal coronary by playing on the old man's fear of snakes. Repeatedly told that there's no forensic evidence of foul play, Brownie still gathers enough evidence to link his father's death to preacher Thomas Ruth, the wild-eyed head of the Church of the Ark, Incorporated (CAIN), who makes his followers prove their faith by walking through a pit of snakes. Infuriated when he's warned off the investigation in favor of abrasive Officer Frank Davis, Brownie pulls Ruth over on a lonely road, threatens him, cuffs him, and turns him loose-- only to become the leading suspect when Ruth's found cuffed to an electrified fence, thoroughly fried, a few hours later. Enter despicable defense attorney King, who gets his old pal Judge Rollie Ransome to appoint him special prosecutor lest the D.A.'s office cover up Brownie's involvement. So Gardner quits his job, along with his faithful assistant Jennifer Munday, to wrestle Brownie's defense away from his incompetent attorney and stare down King from the other side of the aisle. Brownie hamstrings his lawyers by insisting on an unlikely suicide defense, but Gardner and Jennifer are convinced their client's covering for his bad-boy brother Katanga (n‚ Paulie). That's about as subtle as it gets, since Gardner, ``a courtroom wizard,'' and Jennifer, ``a terminator in court,'' are paired off against King, ``a predatory litigator,'' and his Asian co-counsel Lin Song, ``the Samurai Slut,'' with heavy-breathing flashbacks to the principals' childhoods doing little to complicate the verdict: ``King defended evil, and Lawson represented good.'' A Time to Kill knockoff with more mystification than Warfield usually vouchsafes his fans, but with every trace of moral complexity neatly ironed out. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Two apparently race-motivated murders dominate Warfield's third legal thriller (after Silent Son) to feature Maryland State's Attorney Gardner Lawson. A black police detective, Lawson's good friend Joseph ("Brownie") Brown Jr., is accused of murdering a fire-and-brimstone white evangelist whom Brownie believes killed his father. For an easily guessed reason involving his activist brother, Paul, Brownie does everything he can to keep Lawson and his assistant/girlfriend, Jennifer Munday, from doing their jobs. When the two are cleverly forced out of the prosecutorial seat by returning Lawson nemesis Kent King, a smarmy defense attorney who was representing the evangelist before his death, they decide to switch sides and undertake Brownie's defense. To do so, they must contend with their own inexperience; King's ruthlessness and his personal alliance with the judge; a racist investigator who plays fast and loose with the evidence; a black preacher who stirs his community's wrath; and, for that requisite personal conflict, Jennifer's insistence on a greater "commitment" from Gardner. There's a utilitarian quality to the novel that renders it shallow and lacking in certitude. Warfield, a no-frills, sometimes lackluster, writer, is sure-footed in the courtroom but less so procedurally. As in his earlier novels, moreover, the characters lack nuance. Most disappointing, however, is that when the truth behind the deaths is revealed, it spins on a convenient coincidence; and in that spin, any meaningful consideration of the serious racial questions raised by novel is tossed aside.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Grand Central Publishing, 1998. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0446605131