Star Witness (Joseph Antonelli Series #5)

Star Witness (Joseph Antonelli Series #5)

5.0 2
by D. W. Buffa
     
 

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Star Witness is about a man on trial for murder - a man recognized as one of the film industry's most successful writers/directors, a man of almost mythic drive and talent, and someone who looks more guilty with every passing witness. Attorney Joseph Antonelli - suave, philosophical, fearless, and cagey - takes up the director's defense for the murder of his wife,

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Overview

Star Witness is about a man on trial for murder - a man recognized as one of the film industry's most successful writers/directors, a man of almost mythic drive and talent, and someone who looks more guilty with every passing witness. Attorney Joseph Antonelli - suave, philosophical, fearless, and cagey - takes up the director's defense for the murder of his wife, the actress every woman wants to be and every man wants to possess. Despite Antonelli's flawless examination of the prosecution's witnesses, the jury finds fewer and fewer reasons to doubt. Then the director shows Antonelli the script he considers his masterpiece - a re-imagining of Orson Welles's Citizen Kane - with a visionary film director as its hero. In this story-within-a-story, the accused reveals his version of the tragedy - the secrets of his marriage, and the ominous events that led to his wife's death. In it we see the way art can imitate life - and unmask a killer even the court can't find.

Star Witness is a breath-taking novel about the nature of fame and the ever-confusing intersection of truth and fantasy, dream and desire.

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Editorial Reviews

San Jose Mercury News
There's nobody else like Buffa.
Midwest Book Review
Star Witness ends in a way nobody could have predicted.
Publishers Weekly
This uneven fifth novel in the Joseph Antonelli series (The Legacy, etc) has the colorful trial lawyer defending a legendary Hollywood director and studio mogul accused of murdering his movie star wife. Mary Margaret Flanders is killed just before filming the final scenes of a major new movie with her husband's studio. Stanley Roth, her husband, is known for his volatile temper, and becomes the leading suspect. Antonelli takes the case, and though he is sure that his client is innocent, he can't pin down the real killer. The list of suspects includes Roth's partner, who wants to take control of the studio; Flanders's college professor ex-hubby (father of the star's only child); and a blackmailing wannabe screenwriter cop, who had once been to the couple's house to look into Flanders's domestic violence complaint. Central to all this is Roth's obsessive conviction that the entire crime is a replay of his own masterpiece screenplay, Blue Zephyr, which he has yet to make into a movie. While the plot is solid, the first half of the thriller is considerably slowed by windy, repetitious description and exposition ("That's what she was: a young woman in love, but not with a man-with a camera: any camera, not just a motion picture camera.... That's what she lived for: to be on camera, to be on film..."). The pace does pick up when the action shifts to the courtroom, but this effort isn't up to Buffa's best. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Stanley Roth, a successful and talented writer/director in Hollywood, married Mary Margaret Flanders and gave her the break that turned her into an American idol. One day she is found in her swimming pool, a stocking around her neck and her throat slit. Stanley, afraid the police will arrest him, calls defense attorney Joseph Antonelli, a sophisticated, thoughtful, valiant man who is concerned with moral dilemmas, not just the law. The list of suspects includes Stanley; his partner, who wants to be in charge of their film studio, Blue Zephyr; Mary's ex-husband and the father of her child; and a blackmailing aspiring screenwriter detective, who once investigated a domestic violence complaint by Mary. In this captivating story-within-a-story, read by Buck Schirner, Stanley reveals his version of the tragedy by replaying his own screenplay Blue Zephyr, which he has yet to make into a movie. There are interesting twists that keep the listener in suspense, with well-developed characters and a complex and multifaceted plot. Overall, an enjoyable listening experience. Recommended for public libraries.-Carol Stern, Glen Cove P.L., NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Criminal defense attorney Joseph Antonelli returns (The Legacy, 2002, etc.), in a fifth legal thriller as pretentious and plodding as its predecessors. The murder of incandescent cinema beauty Mary Margaret Flanders saddens Hollywood, and the subsequent arrest of her husband, high-powered filmmaker Stanley Roth, turns the sadness to shock and scandal. Acclaimed defender Antonelli (who narrates) takes the case because of his admittedly romantic fascination with the deceased. The charismatic Roth, a generation older than his wife, transformed her from housewife and mother Marian Walsh into the three-named superstar-echoing Citizen Kane, a film that's obsesses Roth. He's written Blue Zephyr (the name of his studio), a screenplay that echoes both the Welles classic and his own life, thereby making certain Hollywood colleagues nervous. Antonelli interviews some of these-aging leading men Louis Griffin and Walker Bradley, and studio financial genius Michael Wirthlin-as well as Marian's gentle first husband, Paul Ehrlich, without getting any closer to the mystery. Mary was found floating facedown, naked, with her throat cut, in the pool of the Roth estate. The only evidence again Roth is his bloody clothing, found in a laundry hamper. At the trial (it dominates the book's last half), tenacious but otherwise unexceptional prosecuting attorney Annabelle Van Roten tries to paint both Roth and Antonelli as media whores. Her key witness is the Mark Fuhrman-like LAPD detective Richard Crenshaw, who found the bloody clothes and had once answered a domestic disturbance call at the Roth home-and, naturally, has a hot screenplay in his pocket. Antonelli gets closer to Roth than he ever intended ordesired, becoming the confidante of the increasingly isolated mogul and almost having an affair with Roth's amanuensis, Julie Evans. Roth even entrusts him with a copy of Blue Zephyr, unread by anyone else. Buffa writes with authority but not economy, with little sense of character or suspense. He tells us how special and brilliant his characters are but doesn't convey it in his prose. Agent: Wendy Sherman

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451411334
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
04/06/2004
Series:
Joseph Antonelli Series, #5
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
4.36(w) x 6.78(h) x 1.19(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

D.W. Buffa served as a defense attorney for ten years. He is the author of five acclaimed novels, The Judgment, nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel of the Year, Star Witness, The Legacy, The Prosecution, and The Defense. He lives in California.

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