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IN HER DEFENSE
By Stephen Horn

HarperCollins, May 2000

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Boston attorney Frank O'Connell, who once had the world by the tail as a partner in his powerful and well-connected father-in-law's firm, with a beautiful wife and wonderful little son, has come down in the world. He left it all to find his own way, and has been reduced to hanging around the courthouse and jail hoping for some public defender jobs.

The members of the law firm which is letting him use their space and steering some of their minor cases his way are getting tired of seeing his skuzzy clients on their premises. While interviewing one of his drug-addled cases in the lockup he exchanges glances with her cellmate, Ashley Bronson, a gorgeous and successful young socialite most known lately as the murderer of a man who was once her father's closest friend. Frank is stunned when, a few days later, she walks into his office and requests him as her criminal attorney, but he takes the case, bringing major changes to his life once again.

She tells him she is guilty, that the man had been tormenting her gentle, scholarly father, and she is prepared to pay for her crime. Frank has other plans. Assembling a motley bunch of assistants, including foul-mouth, burley ex-NYPD detective Walter Feinberg and straight-arrow rookie lawyer Andy Gardner, he sets out to provide Ashley with the best defense possible, and finds that things aren't as clear-cut as they seemed.

Seeking answers from the victim's life, Frank is drawn into a world of international intrigue, the secret lives of atomic scientists, and cover-ups in high places. At the same time, his ex-wife is planning to re-marry and take their son across the country, and he is falling for his client.

Horn does a great job with this novel of courtroom intrigue and tangled human emotions. I highly recommend this book, especially for those who like legal thrillers.


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