Picks and Pans Review: The Second Chair

UPDATED 03/01/2004 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/01/2004 at 01:00 AM EST

By John Lescroat

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It's more than a year after the O.K. Corral-style shootout on a San Francisco pier in Lescroart's previous novel, The First Law. Among the shell-shocked survivors are two good guys on opposing sides: deputy police chief Abe Glitsky, who has a new job that includes fluffy civic functions, and his best friend, criminal lawyer Dismas Hardy. Hardy has become jaded about the system, but after his associate Amy Wu seems to botch the defense of an accused murderer, Hardy joins her as second chair in the hopes that he can rekindle his idealism.

Alternating his focus between Glitsky and Hardy, Lescroart devises realistically flawed people who slog through the muck of criminal justice. At times the complex plot gets as foggy as a July day by the Bay. But if you can stay on top of who's who—ranging from judges to cops, bailiffs to witnesses—Lescroart pulls it all together in the end, as a clutch of seemingly random homicides coheres into a darker pattern.

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