Picks and Pans Review: Moment of Truth
by Lisa Scottoline
"Jack Newlin had no choice but to frame himself for murder." That's a terrific opening line for a hard-boiled, Grishamesque murder novel, which this is supposed to be. But too often, Scottoline (ITALIC "Mistaken Identity"]) lapses into sappy, bodice-ripper prose. Newlin's V neck, we're told, is "deep enough to reveal a light tangle of chest hair" and "show off sinewy biceps."
Newlin, by the way, is an estate attorney at a prestigious Philadelphia law firm. His socialite wife has been stabbed to death, and he confesses to the crime to protect his 16-year-old daughter, a bratty model who hated her mother and has a tacky, drug-dealing boyfriend. Newlin isn't sure what happened, but he knows his daughter is pregnant and wants to preempt any charges against her.
Unaccountably for a big-time lawyer, however, Newlin hires two inexperienced defense attorneys, women who gossip, giggle and bicker like teenagers at a pajama party. It's a common problem for Scottoline's characters. The author, herself a Philadelphia trial lawyer, does sustain interest by holding out the details of the crimes until the end of the book. But her characters need more realism to make them matter. (HarperCollins, $25)
Bottom Line: Moments of truth are just what's missing
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