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by John Martel
ISBN 0451199960 / 9780451199966 / 0-451-19996-0
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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 [via]