Mystery John Martel The Alternate

ISBN 13: 9780525944874

The Alternate

3.63 avg rating
( 90 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780525944874: The Alternate

A philandering former congressman is arrested for killing his wife in an apparent open-and-shut case, but prosecutor Grace Harris and defense attorney Barrett Dickson find themselves working together to solve an all-too-complicated murder case. 75,000 first printing. Lit Guild Alt. Doubleday & Mystery Guild.

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Review:

Is there room in the overcrowded arena of the legal thriller for yet another major player? If that new arrival happens to be blessed with the real-life experience of San Francisco trial lawyer John Martel, the answer is a heartfelt yes. Martel advised the Los Angeles District Attorney's office on the Menendez Brothers retrial and the O.J. Simpson case (proving even a pro can't win them all). He has been called one of the top 10 trial lawyers in America by the National Law Journal. Best of all, he can write compelling scenes that take place both in and out of court, and can create characters who rise above their genre origins to become real people.

Elliot Ashford, a millionaire congressman, is forced to resign because of a sex scandal. When he's charged with the brutal murder of his wife, Lara, assistant district attorney Grace Harris seems to have everything she needs to make a strong case for the prosecution. She also has ambitions that could propel her career up several notches.

Then some key DNA evidence mysteriously disappears, and Grace's chief adversary--a former defense superstar named Barrett Dickson--appears ready for a comeback. But neither side is prepared for the barrage of political infighting, dirty tricks, and mysterious malevolence from inside the jury room. Three more murders and two trials later, you'll emerge from The Alternate with strong doubts about the legal system--but a feeling of certainty that John Martel has a future as a novelist. --Dick Adler

From Kirkus Reviews:

You've met the prosecutor from hell, the D.A. from hell, the judge, the client, the witness from hell. Now Martel (Conflicts of Interest, 1995, etc.) presents the juror from hell. Ex-Congressman Elliot Ashford, who looks and talks like Jay Gatsby, is accused of killing his wife. It's the sort of case that could vault San Francisco D.A. Earl Field into the governor's mansion, but Field has dirty reasons of his own for tanking the case. Asking Grace Harris, the head of his homicide trials unit, to serve as his co-counsel, he resolves to torpedo his own case while making sure she gets the blame. Grace's opposite number, Barrett Dickson, is getting set up equally dextrously. A veteran litigator who's been in seclusion ever since losing a foolproof case, he agrees to second-chair Elliot's hotshot L.A. attorney Al Menghetti, then watches while Menghetti goes into a tailspin and walks, leaving him holding the bag for a client he dislikes and distrusts on behalf of a firm that's trying to ease him out. The wild card neither Grace nor Barrett reckons with is Amanda Keller, the file clerk who's convinced that getting called for Elliot's jury will restart her acting career. Snaking her way from the pool of alternates to a coveted seat on the jury, she hatches a series of increasingly deranged plots to see her brand of justice done. Martel neglects all the traditional strengths of legal intriguethe courtroom scenes are muffled, the complications exhausting, the characters as simplified as caricaturesin order to keep unearthing new varieties of skullduggery the way some writers unearth new evidence. Long before Grace warns the Grace-smitten Barrett, Don't deny your client a shot at a fair trial!, most readers will be wondering what on earth a fair trial might be. Martel would've written a masterpiece if only the fascinating questions he raises about the corruption bred by the adversarial system of criminal justice made for equally fascinating melodrama. (Literary Guild/Mystery Guild selection; author tour) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Martel, John
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