Conviction (Christopher Paget Series #4)

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Overview

When the body of nine-year old Thuy Sen is found in the San Francisco Bay, the police quickly charge Rennell and Payton Price with her grisly murder. A twelve-person jury, abetted by an incompetent defense lawyer, is nearly as quick to find the brothers guilty, and to sentence them both to die for their crimes.

Fifteen years later, overworked pro bono laywer Teresa Peralta Paget, her husband Chris, and stepson Carlo, a recent Harvard law graduate, become convinced not only that ...

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Overview

When the body of nine-year old Thuy Sen is found in the San Francisco Bay, the police quickly charge Rennell and Payton Price with her grisly murder. A twelve-person jury, abetted by an incompetent defense lawyer, is nearly as quick to find the brothers guilty, and to sentence them both to die for their crimes.

Fifteen years later, overworked pro bono laywer Teresa Peralta Paget, her husband Chris, and stepson Carlo, a recent Harvard law graduate, become convinced not only that Rennell didn't receive a fair trial but that he may well be innocent. Racing against the clock and facing enormous legal obstacles, Teresa, Chris, and Carlo desperately try to stay Rennell's execution, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and to an enormously moving and powerful conclusion.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After focusing on gun control and tort reform (in Balance of Power) and late-term abortion and Supreme Court nomination (in Protect and Defend), Patterson takes on the death penalty, exploring its uncertainties and injustices from the perspective of San Francisco lawyer Christopher Paget-hero of the author's first book, The Lasko Tangent-and Paget's lawyer wife, Terri. The horrific crime on which the novel hinges is the killing of nine-year-old Thuy Sen, whose body is found in San Francisco Bay. The medical examiner quickly ascertains that the little girl did not drown but choked to death on semen. After Thuy Sen's picture is broadcast on television, an elderly eyewitness identifies her dope-dealer neighbors Payton and Rennell Price as the killers. This story is told in flashback after Terri Paget, who specializes in representing death row inmates, takes on the 15-year-old case, representing Rennell, who has 59 days before he is to die by lethal injection. Rennell is a hulking retarded black man whose sullen passivity inspires little sympathy in anyone. Over the next several months, Teresa comes to believe in Rennell as she fights not only to stop his execution but to prove him innocent. It's a compelling story, but Patterson's true interest is in the legal details. He mostly succeeds at explaining the often Orwellian legal complexities of the death penalty, but the price he pays as a novelist is high. Many readers will skip over vast sections of the book, but those who stick with it will find the ending moving and come away with a greater understanding of a controversial issue. (Feb. 1) Forecast: Patterson still carries enough reader clout to put this one on the bestseller lists, but he comes very close to presenting material too dense to hold the attention of a large popular audience. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
No one would ever accuse Patterson of avoiding hot topics: Balance of Power and Protect and Defend considered gun control and late-term abortion, respectively, while this novel takes on death penalty convictions. Fifteen years ago, brothers Rennell and Payton Price were sentenced to death for the brutal murder of nine-year-old Thuy Sen. Now, as Rennell's scheduled execution approaches, pro bono lawyer Theresa Peralta Page (also seen in Eyes of a Child), along with her attorney husband and attorney stepson, takes his final appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. At the same time, Theresa deals with her troubled teenage daughter and her own guilt. While it is apparent that the author opposes the death penalty, Patterson nevertheless provides compelling evidence for both sides of the argument. In his sure hands, this fascinating and often agonizing in-depth look at the death-penalty process becomes a personal journey for the lawyers, the convicted, and the reader. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/04.]-Stacy Alesi, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., Boca Raton, FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Patterson, who's evidently never met a legal issue he couldn't turn into page-turning fiction, takes on the vexed problem of capital punishment. The evidence against Rennell Price and his drug-wholesaler brother Payton was overwhelming. A neighbor saw the two of them pull nine-year-old Thuy Sen off the street as she walked home from her Bayview school. Traces of hair, semen, and saliva were found in the house where they lived with their grandmother and in the trunk of the car belonging to Payton's lieutenant, Eddie Fleet, who in due course testified that he'd helped them dump the body into San Francisco Bay. As if the facts weren't damning enough, their lawyer was a self-confessed incompetent who took the case (thriftily bundling their defenses together) in order to support his crack habit. Following their swift convictions, the Prices have sat for 15 years on Death Row as their appeals ground through the system. Now Teresa Paget is handling Rennell's final appeal as the clock ticks down. Patterson (Balance of Power, 2003, etc.) cunningly doles out hopeful new developments in the tiniest increments imaginable as Terri, her stepson Carlo Paget, and their habeas corpus team prepare round after round of their appeal, laboring under the draconian strictures of the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and eventually working their way up to the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Caroline Masters (The Final Judgment, 1995). Throughout their legal travails on behalf of a defendant Terri believes is both retarded and innocent, Patterson miraculously keeps the most recondite political, moral, and philosophical issues clear. But he's less successful in creating three-dimensionalcharacters to incarnate these dilemmas. The result is one of those rare thrillers whose most exciting parts-and there are plenty of them-are its most abstract legal arguments. Middling in-and-out-of-courtroom drama, but a superior example of contemporary muckraking. Agent: Frederick Hill/Bonnie Nadell Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345450203
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/25/2005
  • Series: Christopher Paget Series , #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 199,601
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard North Patterson is the author of twelve prior novels, including Balance of Power, Protect and Defend, and Degree of Guilt. Formerly a trial lawyer, Mr. Patterson served as the SEC's liaison to the Watergate Special Prosecutor, and is now on the boards of several Washington-based advocacy groups. He lives on Martha's Vineyard, MA.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

CONVICTION Chapter One

In fifty-nine days, if the State of California had its way, the man inside the Plexiglas booth would die by lethal injection.

Teresa Peralta Paget paused to study him, the guard quiet at her side. Her new client stood with his back to them. He was bulky, the blue prison shirt covering his broad back like an oversize bolt of cloth. A picture of enthrallment, he gazed through the high window of the exterior wall at the San Francisco Bay, its water glistening in the afternoon sun. She was reluctant to distract him; the man's sole glimpses of the world outside, Terri knew, occurred when his lawyers came to see him.

The others were out of it now; the last set of lawyers had withdrawn after their latest defeat. The final desperate efforts to keep Rennell Price alive--what she thought of as the ritual death spasms ordained by the legal system--had fallen to Teresa Paget. This was their first meeting: but for his solitude, she could not have picked her client out from the other men huddled with their lawyers in the two rows of Plexiglas cubicles. It resembled, Terri thought, an exhibit of the damned--sooner or later, in months, or more likely years, the impersonal, inexorable grinding of the machinery of death would consume each one in turn.

But perhaps not, Terri promised herself, this one. At least not until she had burnt herself down to the nerve ends, sleep-deprived from the effort to save him.

To her new client, she supposed, Terri might appear a mere morsel for the machine, insufficient even to slow its gears. She was small--barely five feet four--and slight, with olive skin and a sculpted face, which her husband stubbornly insisted was beautiful: high cheekbones; a delicate chin; a ridged nose too pronounced for her liking; straight black hair, which, in Terri's mind, she shared with several million other Latinas far more striking than she. There was little about her to suggest the steeliness an inmate might hope for in his lawyer except, perhaps, the green-flecked brown eyes, which even when she smiled never quite lost their keenness, or their watchfulness.

This wariness was Terri's birthright, the reflex of a child schooled by the volatile chemistry which transformed her father's drinking to bru- tality, and reinforced by the miserable first marriage which Terri, who had no better model, had chosen as the solution to her pregnancy with Elena. Her personal life was different now. As if to compensate for this good fortune, she had turned her career down a path more arduous than most lawyers could endure: at thirty-nine, she had spent the last seven years representing death row inmates, a specialty which virtually guaranteed the opposition and, quite frequently, the outright hostility of judges, prosecutors, witnesses, cops, governors, most relatives of the victim, and by design, the legal system itself--not to mention, often, her own clients. Now that stress and anxiety no longer waited for her at home, Terri sometimes thought, she had sought them out.

What would be most stressful about this client was not the crime of which he stood convicted, though it was far more odious than most-- especially, given certain facts, to Terri herself. Nor was it whatever version of humanity this man turned out to be: her death row clients had run the gamut from peaceable through schizophrenic to barking mad. But this client represented the rarest and most draining kind of all: for fifteen years, through a trial court conviction in 1987, then a chain of defeats in the California Supreme Court, the Federal District Court, the Federal Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, Rennell Price had claimed his...

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First Chapter

CONVICTION
Chapter One

In fifty-nine days, if the State of California had its way, the man inside the Plexiglas booth would die by lethal injection.

Teresa Peralta Paget paused to study him, the guard quiet at her side. Her new client stood with his back to them. He was bulky, the blue prison shirt covering his broad back like an oversize bolt of cloth. A picture of enthrallment, he gazed through the high window of the exterior wall at the San Francisco Bay, its water glistening in the afternoon sun. She was reluctant to distract him; the man's sole glimpses of the world outside, Terri knew, occurred when his lawyers came to see him.

The others were out of it now; the last set of lawyers had withdrawn after their latest defeat. The final desperate efforts to keep Rennell Price alive—what she thought of as the ritual death spasms ordained by the legal system—had fallen to Teresa Paget. This was their first meeting: but for his solitude, she could not have picked her client out from the other men huddled with their lawyers in the two rows of Plexiglas cubicles. It resembled, Terri thought, an exhibit of the damned—sooner or later, in months, or more likely years, the impersonal, inexorable grinding of the machinery of death would consume each one in turn.

But perhaps not, Terri promised herself, this one. At least not until she had burnt herself down to the nerve ends, sleep-deprived from the effort to save him.

To her new client, she supposed, Terri might appear a mere morsel for the machine, insufficient even to slow its gears. She was small—barely five feet four—and slight, with olive skin and a sculpted face, which herhusband stubbornly insisted was beautiful: high cheekbones; a delicate chin; a ridged nose too pronounced for her liking; straight black hair, which, in Terri's mind, she shared with several million other Latinas far more striking than she. There was little about her to suggest the steeliness an inmate might hope for in his lawyer except, perhaps, the green-flecked brown eyes, which even when she smiled never quite lost their keenness, or their watchfulness.

This wariness was Terri's birthright, the reflex of a child schooled by the volatile chemistry which transformed her father's drinking to bru- tality, and reinforced by the miserable first marriage which Terri, who had no better model, had chosen as the solution to her pregnancy with Elena. Her personal life was different now. As if to compensate for this good fortune, she had turned her career down a path more arduous than most lawyers could endure: at thirty-nine, she had spent the last seven years representing death row inmates, a specialty which virtually guaranteed the opposition and, quite frequently, the outright hostility of judges, prosecutors, witnesses, cops, governors, most relatives of the victim, and by design, the legal system itself—not to mention, often, her own clients. Now that stress and anxiety no longer waited for her at home, Terri sometimes thought, she had sought them out.

What would be most stressful about this client was not the crime of which he stood convicted, though it was far more odious than most— especially, given certain facts, to Terri herself. Nor was it whatever version of humanity this man turned out to be: her death row clients had run the gamut from peaceable through schizophrenic to barking mad. But this client represented the rarest and most draining kind of all: for fifteen years, through a trial court conviction in 1987, then a chain of defeats in the California Supreme Court, the Federal District Court, the Federal Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, Rennell Price had claimed his innocence of the crime for which the state meant to kill him.

No court had considered this claim worthy of belief or even, in the last five of these proceedings, a hearing. As far as the State was concerned, its sole remaining task should be to dispatch three psychiatrists to advise the Governor's office, within twenty days of the appointed date of execution, whether her client was sane enough to die: one of the niceties of capital punishment, Terri thought sardonically, was the State's insistence that the condemned fully appreciate that lethal injection would, in fact, be lethal.

She nodded to the guard.

He rapped sharply on the Plexiglas. With a twitch of his shoulders, as though startled, the black man inside the cage turned to face them.

His eyes were expressionless; for him, Terri thought, the highlight of her visit—a view of the bay—was already over. With a resignation born of fifteen years of meeting lawyers in these booths, he backed toward the door and, hands held behind his back, thrust them through an open slot.

The guard clapped on his handcuffs, closing them with a metallic click. Then Rennell Price, shackled, stepped away from the door.

The guard opened it, admitting Terri.

The door shut, and Rennell stood over her. As he backed to the slot again, waiting for the guard to uncuff his outthrust hands, Terri had an involuntary spurt of fear, the reflex of a small woman confined with a hulking stranger who had, in the estimate of twelve jurors, done a terrible thing to someone much smaller than she.

She held out her hand. "I'm Terri Paget," she told him. "Your new lawyer."

His expression was somewhere between sullen and indifferent—she might as well have pronounced herself an emissary from Pluto. But after a moment, he looked up at her and said in a monotone, "My name Rennell."

She searched his eyes for hope or, at least, some instinct to trust. She saw none.

"Why don't we sit," Terri said. "Get acquainted a little."

With a fractional shrug, her client turned, slid out the orange plastic chair on the far side of a laminated wood table, and sat, staring past Terri. Settling across from him, Terri saw the inmates in the next two cages huddled with their lawyers, lips moving without sound.

Rennell's face, Terri decided, was more than inexpressive—it had no lines, as if no emotion had ever crossed it. She reminded herself that he had been only eighteen when convicted, now was barely thirty-three, and that the fifteen years in between had been, were this man lucky, mostly solitary, and unrelentingly the same. But not even Terri's presence—a novelty, at least—caused the line of his full mouth to soften, or his wide brown eyes to acknowledge her.

Terri tried to wait him out. Yet the broad plane of his face remained so impassive that he seemed not so much to look through her as to deny her presence. It was hard to know the reasons. But one of the hallmarks of an adult abused as a child, Terri reflected, was an emotional numbing to the point of dissociation—a willful process of going blank, of withdrawing mentally from this earth. Jurors often thought such men indifferent to the crimes their prosecutors described so vividly; in the case of this crime, that could hardly have helped Rennell Price.

"I've taken over your case," Terri explained. "Your lawyers at Kenyon and Walker thought you deserved a fresh pair of eyes."

This drew no reaction. Mentally, Terri cursed her predecessors for their absence, the ultimate act of cowardice and desertion—leaving her to build a relationship with a sullen stranger, the better to save his life, or prepare him to die. Then, to her surprise, he asked, "You know Payton?"

"Your brother? No, I don't." Terri tried to animate her voice with curiosity. "How's he doing?"

"Fixing to die. They're going to kill him. Before me."

Oddly, Terri thought, this last detail about Payton seemed to carry more dread than his own fate. "How do you know?" she inquired.

He slumped forward on the table, not answering. "I can't be there," he said dully. "Warden told me that."

Struck by the answer, Terri chose to ignore its unresponsiveness. "What else did she tell you?"

"That I can pick five people. When my time come."

Five witnesses, Terri thought, granted the condemned by the grace of the State of California. But from what Terri knew, it would be hard to find five people, outside the victim's family, who gave enough of a damn to watch. Rennell Price's death, if it came, would be a very private affair.

"You don't have to worry about that yet." Pausing, Terri looked hard into his eyes. "We'll have a lot of help—my husband, Chris, who's a terrific lawyer, and a team of investigators to look into your case. You'll meet them all soon. We'll be doing everything we can to save your life."

For almost half that life, he had heard this—Terri could see that much in his face. And each time, she already suspected, whoever said it had been lying.

Slowly, his eyelids dropped.

"I didn't do that little girl," he said. "Payton didn't do her."

The denial sounded rote, yet etched with fatigue. "How do you know about Payton?" Terri asked.

"He told me."

What to make of that, she wondered. As either a reason to believe his brother or a statement of truth, it was implausible to the point of pitiful, and she could not divine if this man knew it. "Who do you think ‘did' her, Rennell?"

He gave a silent shrug of the shoulders, suggesting an absence of knowledge or, perhaps, a massive indifference.

"The day she died," Terri persisted, "can you remember where you were?"

"I don't remember nothing."

As an answer, it was at least as credible as the alibi the defense had offered at the brothers' trial. But one or the other could not be true, suggesting—unhelpfully—that neither was.

Terri simply nodded. There was little else to ask until she combed the record, little purpose to her visit beyond starting to persuade Rennell Price—against the odds, given his life lessons—that someone cared about him. "I'll be coming to see you every few days," she assured him. "Is there anything you need?"

Rennell gazed at the table. "A TV," he said at last. "Mine's been broke for a long time now."

"Before it broke, what did you like to watch?"

"Superheroes. Especially Hawkman. Monday through Friday at four o'clock."

She could not tell if this commercial announcement was a statement of fact or suggested an unexpected gift for irony. Whatever the case, given the size of his cell and the cubic footage limitations on his possessions, a new TV would not bankrupt the Paget family. And fifty-nine days of Hawkman was not too much to ask—though it was not easy for Terri to imagine the waning existence which would be measured out, hour by hour, in images on the Cartoon Network.

"I'll get you a new one," she promised.

Her client did not answer. Maybe, Terri thought, he did not believe her. Even when she stood to leave, he did not look up.

Only as the guard approached did Rennell Price speak again, his voice quiet but insistent.

"I didn't do that little girl," he told his lawyer.

Two

"To look at his reactions," Teresa Paget told her hus- band and stepson, "most people would wonder if there's a human being inside. But I began to wonder if he's retarded."

Chris's mouth formed a smile. "Or maybe just antisocial. In the Attorney General's Office, that means just smart enough to feel no remorse."

The three of them—Terri, Chris, and Carlo—sat on the deck of the Pagets' Victorian home in the Pacific Heights section of San Francisco, three tall glasses resting on the table in front of them. In the foreground of their sweeping view, Victorians and Edwardians and red-brick Georgians crowded the hill, which descended to the Italianate homes of the Marina District. Beyond that, the bay was still crowded with boats in the failing sun of a late Saturday afternoon, their sails swelling with a steady wind, which on the Pagets' deck calmed to a fitful breeze. Though the panorama relieved Terri's sense of claustrophobia, so intense in the Plexiglas booth, it heightened her consciousness of the surreal gap between Rennell's existence and her own, intensified by the familiar visages to either side of her.

At fifty-five, Christopher Paget remained trim and fit, the first streaks of silver barely visible in his copper hair, the clean angles of his face as yet unsoftened by age. Wealthy by inheritance, Chris carried an air of sophistication and detachment which never obscured, at least for Terri, his devotion to their reconfigured family: her thirteen-year-old daughter, Elena; their seven-year-old son, Kit; and, as always, their newest legal associate—Chris's son Carlo, fresh from Yale Law School at the age of twenty-five.

If anything, Carlo appeared more blessed than Chris. His mother, of Italian descent, had been a beauty, and Carlo had dark good looks which Terri had seen stop women on the street. Among Carlo's many graces was that he seemed unaware of this. Unlike Chris, who superficially did not appear so, Carlo was idealistic, a sweet and loving soul—all of which, Terri knew, had everything to do with Chris himself. That was part of what had caused Terri to fall in love with Chris. So here she was, the daughter of a struggling Hispanic family, sitting in a beautiful house in a beautiful city with two men who, by all appearances, had been showered with God's favors since the moment they were born.

It was not quite true, of course. Chris's parents were unloving and alcoholic socialites whose wasted lives had ended in a car wreck. Carlo had been the by-product of an affair, the miserable and unloved son of a single mother who despised Chris too much to let him raise Carlo—until the moment, fearful that the stunted seven-year-old child would become a damaged adult, Chris had given her no choice. It was this sense of life's underside that had given Chris the capacity to understand, at least as much as he could, what it was like for Terri to grow up in a household where her father raped and brutalized her mother, indifferent to what their daughter saw or felt. That this experience had led her—with whatever emotional crosscurrents—to comprehend the lives which so often created death row inmates, and to feel that representing them was recompense for her own escape, was something that Chris still strove to understand; that their law firm would subsidize her efforts, and that Chris would help, was a given. Which was why Carlo—preserved in his idealism, Chris wryly remarked, by an absence of student loans—had chosen to join them.

They drank iced tea; though it was close to the Pagets' accustomed cocktail hour, the conversation was too purposeful for that. "Still," Chris ventured, "it's a strange crime."

Only after a quick glance at Terri did Carlo turn to him, and she was acutely aware of the sensitivity toward her that, for a moment, delayed his question: "Strange in what sense?"

"That it would involve both brothers. It's a matter of shame—if you put a nine-year-old boy on the fifty-yard line at Notre Dame stadium, and packed the seats with pedophile priests, none of them would move. Child molesters tend to act alone."

This remark, with its echoes from her daughter Elena's past, reminded Terri that walling herself off from the nature of Rennell Price's alleged crime might be far more difficult than she had made herself believe. Then Chris reached across the table and touched her hand. Quietly, he said, "You don't have to take this case, you know."

Pensive, Terri curled her fingers in his. "The Habeas Corpus Resource Center is jammed, and they're out of volunteers. So it's me or no one." She faced Carlo. "About child molesters," she told him baldly, "your dad's right. Elena could tell you that. But Rennell Price still claims he's innocent. That's where we have to start—and quickly."

This settled the matter, as Terri had known it would. After another glance at his father, Carlo nodded.

"So," she continued, "we have to look at the facts as if no one ever has before. Review the police reports, the physical evidence, the witness statements, the trial transcript. Track down the key witnesses—could they have been mistaken, we'll want to know, or have had a motive to lie? Both happen more often than you'd think."

"What about the cops?"

"If they're willing. Same with the prosecutor and Rennell's trial lawyer—we'll want to know why they made the choices they did. That will be far more touchy for defense counsel."

Carlo raised his eyebrows in inquiry. "Because we'll second-guess him?"

"More than that," Chris told him. "We have to prove that Rennell Price's trial lawyer was so incompetent that his client was denied the effective assistance of counsel granted by the Sixth Amendment. It won't be easy, given that some courts have ruled that even sleeping through your client's trial is not enough to qualify. Damned few lawyers will admit they were worse than that."

"If we can prove Rennell Price is innocent, why should it matter?"

Terri suppressed a rueful smile: framed against the panoply of sailboats, his crew-neck burgundy sweater carelessly draped over his shoulders, Carlo still seemed innocent himself. But so had she been.

"Later on," she promised, "I'll induct you into the wonderland of death penalty jurisprudence. For now, take my word that the State of California can claim that even compelling new proof of this guy's innocence doesn't bar his execution—at least, taken alone. If the trial was fair, then they'll say his execution is constitutional. Even if the verdict may well have been wrong."

"How can innocence not matter?"

"Because that's the law—you'll find out soon enough. Rennell Price was convicted of an awful crime, and fifteen years later, he's still alive. He's become an overdue debt to the victim's parents, and the State of California is determined to collect on their behalf."

Saying this reminded Terri of how solitary Rennell was—and of why she must distance herself, as much as possible, from the fact that the victim had suffered a death which caused Terri to cringe with guilt at what her own daughter still was forced to live with.

"So we'd better hope he is retarded," Chris remarked to Carlo. "That's the good news, if there is any. While you were holed up cramming for the bar exam, the Supreme Court decided in Atkins v. Virginia that we no longer execute the mentally retarded. The trick, if Terri's right, is proving that she's right with respect to Rennell Price. Otherwise," Chris added sardonically, "or so the argument goes, we'll be flooded with claims of retardation filed by crafty middle-aged inmates who suddenly can't tie their own shoes.

"That means we need to show who Rennell was at age eighteen, and how he got that way—his parents, relatives, brother, friends, home, neighborhood, educational and medical histories, mental profile. Everything that ever happened to him, an entire social history in fifty-nine days."

The task was so daunting that Carlo, feigning a careless shrug, simply inquired, "So where do we start?"

Restless, Terri stood. "By going to the office," she told him with faux good cheer. "Right now. We'll start by reading reams of paper, then tracking down the cops."

Now Carlo looked genuinely startled. "What if I have a date?"

Chris laughed aloud. "Ask her to come to your place late," he suggested helpfully, "and hope that she'll stay over." Abruptly, his eyes grew serious and, in his wife's appraisal, a little sad. "Until you save Rennell Price, or the State of California kills him, life as you know it is over. After that, it will merely never be the same. I know that from living with Terri."
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2005

    Manipulative Legal Thriller

    Manipulative, moving, but overlong legal thriller makes emotional case against the death penalty. The story bogs down in descriptions of legal technicalities, but still a good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2012

    Excellent Book

    I don't usually write reviews,mainly because I find other reviews so unhelpful. I have recently rediscovered Richard North Patterson after many years and have just finished reading Conviction. If I had given credence to most of the prior reviews, I would have missed one of the most compelling novels I have read in the last few years. I did not find the legal language at all difficult to follow and I do not have a legal degree, just a regular liberal arts degree. I didn't understand the complaints about language. If it was directed at the personal conversations, they were not very different from the discussions my friends and I have when talking about something serious. If directed at the lawyers when arguing their briefs, well the reviewer simply hasn't been around enough attorneys. Finally, I find it offfensive to tead a review that gives away the ending of the book! No more reading reviews for me! I guess this has been more of a complaint than a review. I didn't intend that. I guess I am pretty angry!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2007

    Surprisingly,,, very good

    I found this audiobook to be very intriguing, surprisely, I also bought the audio book set for my best friend. I was a book full of hurt, urban regret and betrayal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2006

    A Book for Legalists, not Readers

    I think RN Patterson is a singularly talented writer with a gift for language, but Conviction just went over the top with the weight of its own verbiage. I think it would be a great book for law students and those in the legal profession, but the preponderance of confusing legal argumentation left me reeling. I simply could not follow the density of the dialectic and the pompous eloquence of many of the characters -- spoken language by anyone, even a well-seasoned legal mind -- must be occasionally marked by indeciseveness or pausing, or even the use of the wrong word here and there. Not in this book: everyone seems to talk as if they were reading from a well-thought-out legal thesis -- no verbal flubs here. Every word, mono-or polysyllabic, is precisely in the right place. Not realistic to me at all. Wonderful words, but just not believable when conveyed in spoken speech. The principal character, Terri Paget, is, I think, well-drawn. Patterson shows us a truly compassionate and dedicated woman who is troubled on many different fronts. Simply put, the book was far too weighty, and far too long. I was really getting irritated by page 315, and realized I still had 200 more pages to go. After reading many of these well-meaning windbag lawyers, thank God I don't have to encounter them. For me, this was a disappointment, but I'm fairly certain that those involved in procedural law loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2006

    Enough Already!

    I have read 400 or the 513 pages of this book and if I could just remember to pick up another novel I would stop reading this one with only 100 pages to go. The story is suppose to be about someone who was probably unjustly sentenced to death. The main character is trying to overturn this. He may be innocent, or maybe he is guilty. 400 pages in and I really don't care. I guess I have had the opportunity to read a lot of theories on the death penalty, but I already have an opinion on that. What I was missing was an interesting story. This is not it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2006

    Please use a Thesaurus

    This is the first title of Richard North Patterson's that I have read. I enjoyed it, somewhat. It tended to ramble through legal mumbo jumbo well beyond what I consider necessary to get the points across. I also take issue with Mr. Patterson's overuse of the word(s) sardonic(ally). Please, Mr. Patterson, use a thesaurus. How about substituting 'derisive or scornful'. It seems as if sardonic(ally) was used just about every few pages throughout the entire novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2005

    thoughtful read

    I read the reviews before getting into this book but I figured 'Patterson', how bad could it be. Once again I am not disappointed in any way. I'm so tired of Hollwood ending books that I can sit and read in day. This story and the legal battles that are protrayed realy got me to think about the subject at hand. I did at some points have to re-read a few paragraphs to understand some of the legal points, but I found that refreashing to have a book that required more thought in the reading. I really thought this was a decent story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2005

    A Total Let Down

    I have enjoyed the writing of Patterson for a long time. Althought this book reintroduced one of his most intriguing characters,Terri Paget, I was disappointed at the outcome of the book. Very informative about our legal ping pong game, but much too much for the avid Patterson fan. I would have loved to see the victim, Renell, find true justice. If this is any indication of how our legal system actually operates, then we as Americans are truly in worse shape than we can imagine. Maybe Patterson will consider the latter part oft he book a dream and bring Renell back to life. It would have been good to see how he adapted in society, working for the Pagets.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2005

    Highly Disappointing

    I have been a fan of Mr. Patterson's work for years, dating back to well before his books appeared regularly on best sellers lists. However, this time out, Mr. Patterson got so wrapped up in the legal system that he forgot he was writing fiction. I have never minded, in fact, enjoyed, trudging through all the legal mish-mash Patterson offers up because it is not only educational, but has always given us a bit of insight into how a broken system might begin to mend itself. Not this time. No, this time out Mr. Patterson has broken rule number one in the writing of great fiction: he has killed off the most sympathetic character in the book. Is it realistic? Sure it is. But if I simply want to read about how badly broken our legal system is, there are any number of non-fiction sources from which to pick. But, as I said, this is a work of fiction and therefore must meet another standard. I'm not talking about a happy ending here, but how about one that gives us a glimpse into how the monsterous chasm between truth and justice might begin to narrow? I won't stop reading Patterson's books because I beleive he has simply made a mistake. In 'Conviction', Mr. Patterson has shown us that he is as well-versed in the law as he is ignorant to the constructs of great fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2005

    If you need a reason to be depressed

    This novel is overly long, contains too many legal details and lacks any uplifting elements. The subject matter is by it's nature depressing (death penalty) and the crime committed was a brutal sex act against a child with the convicted man believed to be mentally retarded. After spending many hours with the book, I was totally disappointed by the ending and felt as though I had spent the time on Death Row along with the defendant. I've enjoyed other RNP novels. This one is to be avoided at all costs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2005

    Fiction that makes you think

    After gun control (balance of power) and abortion (protect and defend) R North Patterson tackles the issue of the death penalty. The Pagets' take on the case of Rennell Price, a black man, convicted of the murder following sexual assault of a nine year old cambodian girl. On this controversial and divisive issue RNP's position is clearly embodied by Terri Paget, who represents death row inmates, and his doubts by Terri's husband, Chris. The book opens when she meets her client for the first time and with 59 days left to challenge Rennell's sentencing. It is not clear how she ends up with the case, but that question is quickly set aside with flashbacks from Rennell's crime, his trial and his life and the introduction of the main character of the book: the Law. Indeed, the Law, its' interpretation and its' implementation are the central character and driving force of the book, to the detriment of character development inspite of quick insights into Terri's past, and the sidelines about her daughter Elena (a survivor of sexual abuse) the Paget's remain pretty cardbord-ish. As Terri navigates the labyrinth of the appeals process we, the reader, learn more about the system and the players (politicians, lawyers, judges, police..) involved in death penalty cases. The Law applies to all, but what is its' impact on the individual? This book provides an example of what the Law means on a personal level both for Terri and Rennell and for Chris. What is the separation between State and Federal, between the rights of the victim and their family and those of the accused and/or convicted? Even though Terri uncovers new facts, including the disturbing issue of Rennell's mental capacity, are those facts, should those facts, be taken into account? Once a judgment rendered should it be overturned if the law or its scope changes? Who holds the final say? Should Rennell's defense and his life be shunted to the side lines because of political ramifications? Should, as Chief Justice Caroline Masters declares at one point, worry about the credibility of the Court rather than the innocence of an individual? Exploring racial bias, raising questions about the Law as a living organism, presenting an intelligent argument, CONVICTION is an intelligent book which gave a human face to what had been for me an intellectual debate, an abstract subject and left me with more substantive information about the death penalty, and the legal labyrinth that surrounds this controversial subject that leaves no one indifferent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2005

    Death Row Redux

    Richard North Patterson has written many excellent novels in the past. However, Conviction is another death row tearjerker reminiscent of Grisham's The Chamber but with a far more sympathetic protagonist. Once again you are dragged through the apparently endless but futile legal maneuvering. In some ways, its focus is too legalese, even for a lawyer. The only bright spot in the novel is that Patterson weaves a story where he brings back most of the protagonists of his previous novels. I expected better and I was sadly disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2005

    Reality Too Close for Comfort

    While full of laws and the premise of the understanding of our legal system and its maze, this book forces the reader to look at the most unpleasan sides of life, including politics and its deadly grasp on all of us. The end of this tale is predictable almost from the start, but in reading the various waves of this journey to save a life in the course of everyday crime and punishment, the book leaves a haze over what we believe is the law, fair and just, and what may not be how we wish it to work in day-to-day situations. The emotions evoked in the story and the ending can be very unsettling and may give rise to thoughts readers have not had at all. It should be read just for the complexity of how the legal system sustains itself despite interpretation on various levels. You come away never wanting to become a part of our court system and its judgments. I am not sure what is fair or just or just plain political. It makes you give thought to subjects you cannot change, but have to live with.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2005

    Justice is anything but

    I have read all of Patterson's books and have always enjoyed them until I read this book. The theme of the book is that justice for an innocent person can be denied, and the reader is led on a frustrating journey with the suffering victim until finally the end of the book arrives. Trying to prove how flawed the law can be to someone retarded and poor is the theme. This book denigrates the law, judges, lawyers, juries the whole court system, and leaves one feeling trust, human kindness, the traits that separates people from other species, hardly exist. They are absent from most of the characters in the story. Whether one advocates capital punishment or not, this book argues with such obvious anti-capital punishment conviction,it's bias screams out at you. I read to enjoy, or learn, not to be swept on a wave of social bias I fear, Mr. Patterson would have Jack and the Beanstalk end with the giant waking up and eating Jack, Or the Tree bears eating Goldilocks, etc.: Get back to your talent Richard North Patterson...If it's ugliness I want, I can read the newspapers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2005

    Good Read

    Interesting novel. Would have liked it to have ended differently but it was still good. Not as good as his last two novels (Balance of Power and Protect and Defend).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2005

    sickening

    A sad departure from his normal writtings.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    intriguing legal procedural

    Death row attorney Terri Paget is working the fifteen years old capital crime conviction of Rennell Price, who the State of California will execute with a lethal injection in fifty-nine days. Terri realizes that the retarded surly black man is not a good client and her chances of saving him from the death penalty are slim to none.--- Terri with the help of her spouse and son looks back over time and quickly realizes that neither Rennell had much of a defense. The corpse of nine-year-old Thuy Sen was found in San Francisco Bay and the medical examiner immediately concluded that the cause of her death was choking on semen. Broadcast news ran the story with the picture of the young girl as its feature. This led to a neighbor claiming that Payton and Rennell Price, drug dealers, took the child with them while she was apparently coming home from school. Other evidence placed the victim in the Price vehicle. The circumstantial evidence remains overwhelming yet Terri remains convinced that her client is innocent.--- CONVICTION is an intriguing legal procedural in which the death penalty debate is incredible, extremely complex and in all honesty wordy (not a one sitting thriller by any stretch even for a reviewer with a multiple book a day habit). Surprisingly with that deep look and with solid courtroom drama, the cast never fully seems real as the law takes on a life of its own superseding any character. Those interested in understanding why the former Illinois Governor halted capital punishment should read Richard North Patterson¿s strong view on the death penalty, just set aside plenty of time and don¿t run for DA or Governor of Texas.--- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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