Misconception: A Novel

Misconception: A Novel

4.0 1
by Robert Shapiro

Small-town Louisiana doctor Daniel Wyatt has everything: a solid marriage, a successful practice, and a prestigious nomination to the post of Surgeon General of the United States. That is, until one weekend of infidelity and a pregnancy threaten to shatter it all. Accused of murdering his own unborn child by slipping the mother the controversial abortion pill,

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Small-town Louisiana doctor Daniel Wyatt has everything: a solid marriage, a successful practice, and a prestigious nomination to the post of Surgeon General of the United States. That is, until one weekend of infidelity and a pregnancy threaten to shatter it all. Accused of murdering his own unborn child by slipping the mother the controversial abortion pill, RU-486, Wyatt's case goes far beyond jeopardizing his own life and career.

With his trial imminent, a national scandal is underway, pitting eager pro-choice and pro-life proponents against one another, each side awarethat the verdict will have national implications. The small town of Lafayette becomes the latest hot spot in the debate about abortion, and thousands of people congregate to shout their is support for either side. One, in particular, a deadly terrorist who has been killing "abortion doctors" across the country. Inspired by the national media's attention, this killer now has the perfect opportunity to teach the country a vicious lesson.

In an electrifying trial that reverberates with the media frenzy and high emotions of a case that could set the stage for overturning Roe v. Wade, Wyatt faces the fight of his life — not only in the courtroom, but also against a madman who is targeting him on behalf of the unborn.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Best known as a member of O.J.'s Dream Team, attorney Shapiro now teams up with fiction writer Becker (Link) for this issue-driven legal thriller. Though the plot bears a general resemblance to the Simpson case (national figure on trial in a televised courtroom), readers looking for dish not supplied in Shapiro's nonfiction account The Search for Justice will be disappointed. The action centers around Dr. Daniel Wyatt, "a southern white male, courtly, handsome and pro-choice," just nominated for U.S. surgeon general. Everyone considers him a shoo-in for the post, especially his colleague at a women's health clinic in Lafayette, La., Claire Davis, "a strong-willed lawyer" exuding a "powerful sexuality." But just as he steps up to the podium to accept the nomination, Wyatt is paged by Sarah Corbett, an unstable beauty with whom he recently had a fling. Sarah tells him she's pregnant, and though she professes no desire to derail Wyatt's nomination or his marriage to explosively jealous Ellen, she hesitates to get an abortion. Wyatt panics, until Claire procures some RU-486 to give to Sarah. Sarah's sudden miscarriage exposes the affair, and Wyatt finds himself accused of slipping her the abortion drug, thereby "murdering" the unborn child. Meanwhile, Peter O'Keefe, an antiabortion extremist already responsible for the deaths of several ob-gyns in Canada, plots to assassinate Wyatt, and is tracked down by handsome Latino FBI agent Eduardo Costilla. Despite the authors' musings about choice, religion, "human hubris" and destiny, this is pedestrian stuff. The characters are dull-witted and monotonously attractive, and the plot twists might be cribbed from Presumed Innocent and Fatal Attraction. Of course, the courtroom scenes are expertly rendered, but they're nothing we haven't seen on TV. Agent, David Vigliano. National ad/promo; 4-city author tour. (May 21) Forecast: The publisher plans national ad/promo and a four-city author tour, but word of mouth on this novel will be weak, and sales will drop off after a brisk kick-off. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A gripping first legal suspenser by Shapiro (The Search for Justice, 1996, not reviewed) and Becker (the Crichtonesque Link, 1998). Middle-aging, purehearted, respected Dr. Daniel Wyatt, father of three and husband to the ever-jealous Ellen, is nominated for the post of Surgeon-General and must go for a workover by the Senate. One senator, opposing him, has the FBI rake through Wyatt's past on the lookout for smut. Wyatt is a partner of Claire Davis, herself a lawyer and the head of Women's Advocacy Group, a pro-choice spearhead against the conservative Louisiana legal and medical establishments. While away in Baton Rouge, Wyatt has one night in bed with Sarah Corbett, his patient from Lafayette, and a month later Sarah phones that she's pregnant. The authors have a fine time nailing down every tiny shred of Wyatt's guilt. In the meantime, Wyatt asks his friend Dr. Magley to abort Sarah. But Sarah fails to show up for the procedure. The fetus acts like dope and fixates her on Wyatt, who now feels his life slipping down an oiled incline. Then Claire Davis intuits the situation, gives Wyatt a box of French abortion pills, tells him to take Sarah to a beach house for a calm weekend and have her take the pills. Sarah returns home without Wyatt but bleeding profusely, having a bad reaction to prostglandin. The D.A., who wants to run for senator, hears of this, knows that self-abortion is a crime in Louisiana, but even worse-well, the doctor has murdered a fetus. So the D.A. skillfully gets Sarah to implicate Wyatt, then arrests him for murder. Rise, Claire Davis, for the defense. Meanwhile, in a subplot, a serial terrorist who has murdered many doctors sets his sights on Dr. Magley and plansto blow up the courthouse should Wyatt be found innocent. Writing that's spare and strong, and characters who tattoo themselves onto the reader's mind. Not to mention a trial that threatens Roe v. Wade. Author tour

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.13(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

First Page

Dinner was over, and one by one the guests rose to make their speeches.Terri Porter recounted the time her teenage son fell from the toweringoak tree on Tarragon Street. Walter Rory spoke of his wife's long battlewith cancer while Alexandra Rory herself cried quietly and held theguest of honor's hand. Rebecca Schroeder told of her first child, whohad been delivered on a roadside by a man then unknown to her; a passingstranger, an unexpected angel. And Henry Sinjin, of course, revisitedfor the thousandth time the car accident that had resulted in the widescar on his ample abdomen. But this night no one minded hearing the tale(or seeing the scar) once again.

Tonight was special.

The stories were of accidents and sickness, but the gathering at whichthey were recounted was a celebration. All the endings were happy, allthe toasts were to good advice, to speedy recoveries, to bones wellmended. And to Dr. Daniel Wyatt.

Seated next to his beaming wife, he listened with that combination ofembarrassment and unwavering attention that comes with being the objectof public praise.

"I've known Daniel longer than most any of you," Ernest Magley wassaying, his rich Louisiana accent resonating as it always did afterthree glasses of wine. "As the man who was his roommate for two years inmed school, you may assume that I came prepared to offer some specialinsights tonight."

Laughter filled the small, private room. Dr. Magley leaned back againstthe faux wood paneling and took a leisurely sip from the ruby-finedglass in his hand, letting silence return.

"But I am afraid that I must disappoint you," Dr.Magley finallyadmitted. "For Daniel Wyatt was the second — most boring drudge at HarvardMed."

Another artful pause.

"I was the first."

"Oh, I doubt that," Claire Davis called through the laughter. "At leastthe last part. But you stick to that story if you're called upon by theSenate."

"Already planning for the confirmation bearings?" Magley chided.

Claire shrugged her shoulders, and those who knew her well enoughrealized that she'd been planning something like a Senate confirmationhearing for years.

"Should the esteemed senators ask my humble opinion, I'm sure I'll beready with the proper words to describe Dr. Daniel Wyatt," Magleycontinued, straightening his shoulders and putting his glass on thetable. "For many of us, he's been a counselor. For all who live inLafayette, a leader in the community. To those lucky enough to know himwell, a good friend. But if asked to choose one word to describe Daniel,I would say simply, he is a healer."

Applause filled the tiny room. Dr. Magley looked pleased with himself.

"No way am I putting that pompous ass in front of the committee," ClaireDavis whispered into Dr. Wyatt's ear.

Daniel Wyatt nodded his head, but he was remembering a night fourteenyears before, when he had delivered Ernest Magley's first child. Sixteenhours of labor, ending in a footling breech. It had been a very riskydelivery, and when it was all over, Ernest had cried harder than thebaby.

"And now we must hear from the new attorney general ... um, I mean,counsel general to the surgeon general nominee," Magley finally ended."I give you Claire Davis, esquire."

Claire rose, and put one hand on Wyatt's shoulder as she spoke. Wyattsneaked a quick glance at his wife, Ellen, but she was smiling broadlyup at Claire. With any other woman, especially one as attractive asClaire, the intimacy revealed by the touch would have made her furious.Wyatt had learned early in their marriage to avoid beautiful women atparties; Ellen found even a moment of public conversation between Danieland an unknown woman humiliating. It wasn't jealousy in the usual sense.She trusted him. But when other people saw in Wyatt a hint of somethingthat even remotely smacked of infidelity, Ellen's mind began to spin.She had grown up in Opelousas, a small town to the north of Lafayette,and she had a lifelong fear of gossip.

But with Claire it was different. In the years that she and Daniel Wyatthad worked together, spending long evenings developing the LafayetteWomen's Advocacy Group, Ellen had come to accept her. Claire was aconsummate professional, a strong-willed lawyer, and a fearsomepolitician. Despite her beauty and the powerful sexuality she exuded,Claire was, in the eyes of a genteel southern woman like Ellen, less awoman than an honorary man.

A waiter passed through the doors that led to the public part of therestaurant, and the sounds of the crowd of diners briefly overwhelmedthe room. Claire, never one to allow her voice to be drowned out, pauseduntil it was quiet again.

"When Daniel and I began our work creating the Women's Advocacy Group-orWAG, as some wags have dubbed it" — Claire paused again, allowing amoment for the room's warm laughter at the decade-old joke —certainlyweren't thinking of Washington."

Wyatt smiled to himself, wondering how many in the room were credulousenough to swallow that one.

"But now that we're headed to the office of surgeon general, I'm sureDaniel will be remembered for more than just telling Americans not tosmoke."

"Uh-oh," Ernest Magley interjected, stabbing his cigarette into hismashed potatoes. No one dared laugh at his antics while Claire held thefloor.

"We began with one simple goal," she continued, effortlessly ignoringMagley. "To help the women of this city and state take control of theirbodies, their futures, and their lives. "

The applause was loud and long, then Claire continued to tell the storyof her partnership with Daniel Wyatt. Watching her words grip the crowd,Wyatt realized how much she had changed since...

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Meet the Author

Robert Shapiro is a nationally known trial attorney and partner in the law firm of Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil, and Shapiro. His cases have included People v. Christian Brando and People v. 0. J. Simpson. A frequent lecturer and writer, he is also the author of The Search for Justice.

Walt Becker is an author, director, and screenwriter for film and television. A native of Pasadena, California, he received a B.A. in communications from UCLA and his master's degree from the USC School of Film and Television. He wrote and directed the feature film comedy Buying the Cow for Destination Films and Sony Pictures, and his first book, Link, was published in 1998.

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Misconception 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Highly regarded Louisiana Dr. Daniel Wyatt is expected to be a breeze for acceptance by the Senate as the new Surgeon-General. However, the father of three has had a recent indiscretion that could derail his nomination. He slept with a patient Sarah Corbett, who is now pregnant. Daniel suggests an abortion, but Sarah rejects the notion.

Attorney Claire Davis, a pro-choice advocate, gives Wyatt the French abortion pill for him to give to Sarah. Sarah takes the RU-486 pill and soon suffers a miscarriage. The D.A. uses Sarah to incriminate Wyatt for murdering a fetus. Meanwhile, an anti-abortionist serial killer, Peter O'Keefe, targets Wyatt for death if the doctor is acquitted of murder at the conclusion of the trial of the century that could change the course of abortion in this nation.

Readers must not get the MISCONCEPTION that this novel has anything to do with OJ although Dream Team defense attorney Robert Shapiro is a co-author. Instead, the story line is an entertaining legal medical thriller that readers will find more enjoyable than rehashing OJ. Daniel is a decent person and though Sarah and Claire seem extreme they are fully developed and understandable. Insight into the fiery nature of Peter adds to a better comprehension of the extreme anti-abortion element in a John Brown type of way.. Still Mr. Shapiro and Walt Becker have written a powerful medical-legal thriller that provides insight into a complex and emotional issue, but never eases up on the action for a moment while doing so. Harriet Klausner