Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Pages: 309
Date: 29/12/2009
Grade: 5
Details: Stand-alone

Before I start my review of this book, I should share the story of how it got to be in my possession in the first place.
I am a nightmare to buy books for. I need to keep lists for myself to make sure I don't bring home something I already own or have read. So, if it's hard for me, imagine what it must be like for my husband. Yet, Dermot likes his presents to be surprises, and this year he outdid himself because he succeeded not only in finding me a book I hadn't read yet, but also a book by an author I had never heard of before Christmas day.
Apparently he walked into the Cavan Book Centre (a secondhand bookstore) and asked the lady there for help; he needed a book for his wife, who was really into murder and had read close to everything known to men. The lady told him she thought she had just what he wanted, but is was in her home. If he could just hang around for about three hours, she'd pick the book up and sell it to him. So, Dermot hang around Cavan Town for three hours and the lady rushed home on her break in a determined effort by both of them to get me a good and totally unexpected book for Christmas.
Boy, did they succeed.
I have a confession to make though. I'm a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers, but in general and for reasons I don't quite understand I'm not usually into legal thrillers, which is exactly what this is. So I was a bit worried when I started The Defense. After all the thought and effort that had gone into getting me the book, I really wanted to love it, but would I?
The answer to that question, as my grade indicates, is an unqualified YES!
This is the story of defense attorney Joseph Antonelli who hasn't lost a case in his career and has no qualms about getting the guilty off. After all, that's his job.
When he receives a phone call from Judge Leopold Rifkin, a good friend of his, asking Antonelli to defend a man who has been accused of raping his young stepdaughter, he takes the case and does what he does best; he gets the man off, well aware that the man is almost certainly guilty.
For years afterwards, Antonelli doesn't give the case another though, and then a murder is committed. And although he doesn't know it, that is the moment Antonelli's past comes back to haunt him and his friends. Subsequent events will upset several lives.
This was not a fast-paced, thrill a minute sort of book. In fact, it is a rather hard and cynical look at the American legal system. The author worked as a defense attorney for ten years before turning to writing, so it's hard not to think that there has to be, at the very least, a grain of truth in that point of view.
A point of view that is very close to the reasons I had for not wanting to be a practising lawyer, even though I have a law degree.
The other amazing thing about this book is that although there's very little in the way of action or cliff hangers, I still couldn't stop myself from turning the pages in a desperate need to find out exactly what was going on, and how it would all end.
Now I'll have to find more books by this author, and soon.

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