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A Few writers in the crowded field of legal thrillers are as skilled as Richard North Patterson at depicting the ebb and flow of a murder trial, the fierce battles over evidence, the struggles of the defense and prosecuting attorneys to seize on even the smallest uncertainties in a witness and turn them into a weapon. His novels (including Degree of Guilt and Eyes of a Child) have also been distinguished by his complex portraits of his protagonists, and The Final Judgment is no exception.
Caroline Masters, who has just been appointed to the Court of Appeals by the President, is summoned home to New Hampshire to defend her niece, arrested for the particularly grisly murder of her lover. Caroline, who had broken with her family some 20 years ago, finds the carefully compartmentalized existence she has built coming apart as her efforts to clear her niece threaten to reveal a series of family secrets long suppressed. The courtroom scenes are vivid, tense and convincing.
Caroline is no simple heroine: increasingly desperate to identify the real killer, she steps outside the law to secure evidence. And the resolution of the case surprises with quiet conviction. This somber novel is both an ingenious mystery and a moving exploration of the ways in which silence and fear can destroy a family. -- Salon