The Perfect Witness: A Novel of Legal Suspense

Overview

Murder. Courtroom suspense. Unforgettable characters. A California town drenched in fog and secrecy. Barry Siegel delivers one of the most original and exciting legal thrillers in years.

They used to be partners: Greg Monarch and Ira Sullivan, a couple of do-good lawyers in the central California town of La Graciosa. Ira, the charmer who glided through life. Greg, ever the ...
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1997 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Brand New Hardback Book. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 352 p. Audience: General/trade. Legal Stories California-Fiction, Examination ... Of Witnesses-Fiction Hardcover 9780345413079 Lawyer Greg Monarch has to resort to some dirty tricks to save a former partner accused of murder in California. The partner was framed by nuclear polluters he was exposing. The moral of the story is that sometimes it is necessary to bend the rules to achieve justice. By the author of A Death in White Bear Lake. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Murder. Courtroom suspense. Unforgettable characters. A California town drenched in fog and secrecy. Barry Siegel delivers one of the most original and exciting legal thrillers in years.

They used to be partners: Greg Monarch and Ira Sullivan, a couple of do-good lawyers in the central California town of La Graciosa. Ira, the charmer who glided through life. Greg, ever the searching idealist.

But it all went bad for Ira. Bad enough that he wakes up in jail one day staring at a death sentence for murder. And he can't remember if hes the killer. Only Greg Monarch has a prayer of getting him off—if he's willing to cross certain ethical lines.

Just how far should he go to save his former partner? As Greg Monarch wrestles with that question, he finds himself inexorably drawn into an ever-widening web of deceit and intrigue. The stakes are much higher then he first imagined; the forces gathering against Ira reach well beyond their coastal hamlet.

Layer by layer, Greg peels back a tissue of lies—and at the rotten core he comes to Sandy Polson. A self-possessed beauty with a shady past, Sandy is the kind of woman who can look you deep in the eyes and make you believe anything. Sandy says she was with Ira the night of the murder, says she saw the whole thing. The prosecution believes shes the perfect witness. But what if Monarch could persuade Sandy to tell the truth? Wouldnt Sandy then become the perfect witness for the defense?

A spellbinding story of crime and punishment, betrayal and revenge, Barry Siegel's new novel is a compelling journey into the heart of the courtroom and the human soul.
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Editorial Reviews

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Siegel, an award-winning reporter whose true-crime novel, A Death in White Bear Lake, was nominated for an Edgar, has chosen to make his fiction debut with an intriguing and thought-provoking legal thriller. His hero, Greg Monarch, is a lawyer in a small California town who is tapped to defend his former partner, Ira Sullivan, on a charge of murder. Making his job almost impossible is the title character, Sandy Poison, a stunning, utterly convincing pathological liar who is providing an unscrupulous district attorney with all the "evidence" he needs to put Sullivan away. Witness is a neatly constructed, suspenseful courtroom drama that neatly casts light on the difference between jurisprudence and justice.

—Dick Lochte

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345413079
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/29/1997
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.47 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.15 (d)

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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Table of Contents

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