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The Perfect Witness
     

The Perfect Witness

by Barry Siegel
 

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They used to be partners—Greg Monarch and Ira Sullivan, a couple of do-good lawyers in central California. But it all went bad for Ira. Bad enough that he wakes up in jail one day staring at a death sentence for murder. Only Greg Monarch has a prayer of getting him off—if he's willing to cross certain ethical lines.

Layer by layer, Greg peels

Overview


They used to be partners—Greg Monarch and Ira Sullivan, a couple of do-good lawyers in central California. But it all went bad for Ira. Bad enough that he wakes up in jail one day staring at a death sentence for murder. Only Greg Monarch has a prayer of getting him off—if he's willing to cross certain ethical lines.

Layer by layer, Greg peels back a tissue of lies—and at the rotten core he comes to Sandy Polson. Sandy says she was with Ira the night of the murder, says she saw the whole thing. The prosecution believes she's the perfect witness. But what if Monarch could persuade Sandy to tell the truth? Wouldn't Sandy then become the perfect witness for the defense?

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Greg Monarch's quiet life as a small-town lawyer is shattered when he is asked to defend his former partner, Ira Sullivan, on a murder charge. Unable to turn his back on an old friend, Greg reluctantly agrees to handle the case. However, he soon finds himself involved in both an ever-widening conspiracy and a moral dilemma. As Greg uncovers a complex web of government corruption and deceit, he is faced with the necessity of bending his own ethical standards and manipulating the star witness, a pathological liar, in order to free Ira. Siegel, author of the nonfiction A Death in White Bear Lake (LJ 6/15/90), offers a rather cynical but realistic view of the machinations behind the legal system combined with a collection of eccentric characters. The result is an intriguing blend of mystery, suspense, and courtroom drama that should appeal to readers of those genres. Recommended for most popular fiction collections.Barbara E. Kemp, SUNY at Albany Libs.
Kirkus Reviews
A dogged defense attorney's running battle with an unimpeachable prosecution witness raises disturbing questions about the nature of the judicial process, in this first novel by crime reporter Siegel (Shades of Gray, 1992, etc.).

At first Greg Monarch thinks the evidence against his former law partner Ira Sullivan, now one step up from a drugged-out bum, is a joke. The pistol that killed neighboring postmaster Bob Wilson is found on Sandy Polson, not on Ira, along with $33,000 wrapped in one of the postmaster's towels. Sandy's explanation: Ira came rushing out of the post office and gave her the gun and the money to hold, and she was too frightened and confused to say no. The tale is incredible, of course—but she tells it, and the many stories that follow, with an absolute conviction that makes her the perfect witness. Sandy is one smooth piece of work. Whenever Greg threatens to trip her up on a detail, she just weaves his information into a new version just as seamless as the last. And when a dim corroborating witness, Paul Platt, phones Greg to tell him he's been lying under pressure from hungry D.A. Dennis Taylor, Greg—ever the boy scout—refuses to see him, then agrees, only to have Sandy and Taylor turn Paul around again, and Taylor haul Greg up on charges before the California bar. Greg struggles through Ira's trial trying to figure out the case's connection to a runaway jury's earlier rampage against the nearby Devil's Peak nuclear facility. But he gets stonewalled at every turn; he's no match in the courtroom for an accomplished liar like Sandy, and the jury takes only two hours to convict his client. Then things get really interesting.

Not a whodunit, but a sharp, unsparing exploration of the conflicts between justice and advocacy in the adversarial system Greg's inherited from the Founding Fathers.

From the Publisher
"OUTSTANDING."
—The Seattle Times

"BOLD AND CLEVER."
—San Francisco Chronicle

"FASCINATING."
—Los Angeles Times

"TENSE."
—Detroit Free Press

"INTRIGUING."
—The Wall Street Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345430847
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/01/1999
Edition description:
1 MASS MKT
Pages:
339
Product dimensions:
4.21(w) x 6.87(h) x 0.99(d)

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Meet the Author

Barry Siegel is the author of two previous books: Shades of Gray: Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances and A Death in White Bear Lake, which was nominated for an Edgar Award in the Best Fact Crime category.  He is an award-winning reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

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