When the police find Cole Burgess crouched over Elaine Wager's body on a deserted San Francisco street, they don't have to look very far for means, motive, and the assumption of guilt. The heroin junkie is carrying the gun that killed the rising political star, he has her jewelry and wallet in his pockets, and he flees as fast as his smacked- out legs will take him--right into a fire hydrant. But homicide lieutenant Abe Glitsky isn't willing to leave anything to chance. Elaine was his daughter, though neither had ever acknowledged the relationship. Desperate to avenge his daughter's murder, the policeman (whose razor-sharp profile mirrors an even edgier personality) encourages his detectives to "sweat" the suspect for a confession.
The DA is equally eager to capitalize (pun intended) on the murder: bent on reversing her public image as being soft on crime, Sharron Pratt declares that her office will seek the death penalty. Enter Dismas Hardy, author John Lescroart's smooth-talking Irish lawyer, cajoled into defending Burgess. He doesn't like his client, but he doesn't trust the confession nor Pratt's sudden blood thirst. Joining investigative forces with Elaine's paralegal, Treya Ghent, and Glitsky himself suspended after news of the confession leaks out, Hardy will find himself on the trail of corruption and deceit in the most rarefied of legal circles.
The Hearing is a big, burly legal thriller, and its size is both vice and virtue. Lescroart handles his courtroom scenes with a deft touch, but his ex judicia narrative is often ponderous. He tends to introduce plot developments with sweeping statements, bolstering them with clumsy retrospection, and his characterization leaves something to be desired: "the very cute Amy Wu" has "large enough breasts so that people rarely noticed the bit of thickness at her waist"; and "Visser had a couple of character flaws that were going to negatively impact his aspirations on the force." These cavils aside, The Hearing will doubtlessly appeal to Grisham and Turow fans-- and to Lescroart's own considerable retinue. --Kelly Flynn [via]