Under Oath

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Overview

The "code of silence" remains sacred in Charlestown, one of the most insular and historic neighborhoods of Boston, Massachusetts. This engrossing legal thriller features a murder and conspiracy trial against Charlestown's most notorious crime family. Brothers Billy and Frank Malone stand accused of killing Trevor Shea, a suspected FBI informant, with a potent dose of Power 95 heroin. Boston Homicide Detective Michael Callahan and Michaela Shea, the victim's sister, battle Charlestown's infamous "code of silence" ...
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Under Oath

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Overview

The "code of silence" remains sacred in Charlestown, one of the most insular and historic neighborhoods of Boston, Massachusetts. This engrossing legal thriller features a murder and conspiracy trial against Charlestown's most notorious crime family. Brothers Billy and Frank Malone stand accused of killing Trevor Shea, a suspected FBI informant, with a potent dose of Power 95 heroin. Boston Homicide Detective Michael Callahan and Michaela Shea, the victim's sister, battle Charlestown's infamous "code of silence" and the inherent flaws within the justice system to keep the case against the ruthless Malone brothers alive.

The trial explodes into a high-energy race to justice with chief witnesses being killed, jurors defying their instructions, and FBI cover ups blocking the way. Billy Malone, the cold-blooded crime boss, pulls all the stops to manipulate the justice system and intimidate witnesses. Prosecutor Anson Mitchell presents crucial evidence against the Malones while seasoned criminal defense attorney, Buddy Clancy, unleashes reasonable doubt with penetrating cross-examinations. The jurors oscillate between guilt and innocence as the courtroom drama unfolds.

The plot twists into an unpredictable climax. While the jurors are deliberating, the prosecution discovers new and potentially incriminating evidence against the Malones. Time is of the essence as they race to the courthouse in a last ditch attempt to reopen the case and present the new evidence before it's too late. Their efforts appear in vain as the jurors are filing into the courtroom to announce their verdict. Will justice prevail?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Boston prosecuting attorney Annie Fitzgerald takes center stage in McLean’s rousing courtroom drama, while defense attorney Buddy Clancy, featured in her 2011 debut, Under Fire, provides a wily and unscrupulous foil. On trial for murdering promising Charlestown artist Trevor Shea is the despicable Billy Malone, notorious even in Charlestown, a one-square-mile area with “the highest unsolved murder rate in the country.” For Annie and Boston homicide detective Mike Callahan, convicting Malone would be a coup, since they believe him responsible for many deaths. Clancy is willing to shred reputations and demolish witnesses to win the case for Malone. The Honorable Conrad J. Killam, the judge presiding over the trial, gives both sides wide latitude. Missing witnesses, surprise witnesses, reluctant witnesses, brutal cross examinations, disputed exhibits, and a hodge-podge of jurors keep the outcome in doubt. Occasional rough spots outside the courtroom shouldn’t keep fans of legal thrillers from enjoying Annie and Clancy’s courtroom battles. Agent: Susan Gleason, Susan Gleason Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In this follow-up to McLean's debut legal thriller (Under Fire), prosecutor Annie Fitzgerald must deal with the code of silence practiced by the organized crime members in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood when one of their own is accused of killing an informant. When the trial begins, she has to work through potential witnesses unwilling to talk, as well as the murder of her main witness. She must also deal with a runaway jury and possible tampering from other government agencies. And the courtroom manner and style of her formidable opponent, defense attorney Buddy Clancy, help to add doubt to the guilt of the accused killer. VERDICT McLean's writing is similar to that of other authors working in the legal thriller genre, but that doesn't detract from the engaging and suspenseful story.—Joel W. Tscherne, Bryant & Stratton Coll., Eastlake, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Former prosecutor McLean juggles a vast cast of characters in this courtroom drama, her second legal thriller, set in the crime-ridden Boston neighborhood of Charlestown. Readers met quirky defense attorney Buddy Clancy in McLean's first novel (Under Fire, 2011). This time Clancy is defending a not-so-innocent drug dealer and killer named Billy Malone, who prevails as the scourge of Charlestown. Feisty prosecutor Annie Fitzgerald, an Asian American despite her Irish name, has joined forces with Boston Homicide Det. Mike Callahan, whose career-long crusade to put Malone out of business and in prison has taken him to dark places. This time the pair have Charlestown's resident bad boy up on a charge of killing a young artist named Trevor Shea, whose insightful and lifelike paintings take the viewer deep into the souls of his subjects. Trevor, who died after using some particularly potent heroin, left behind a collection of paintings depicting Charlestown's more famous murder victims. Annie believes those paintings hold the key to solving Trevor's death and races the clock to find more of them, as well as the key that links them together. But she has her work cut out for her: In addition to a garrulous and uncooperative juror who spills the jury's secrets, she's also battling the one person who should want to see the case against Malone succeed, Trevor's brother Chris. While Annie tries to keep the prosecution's witnesses from being picked off one-by-one, she finds that she cares almost too much about getting Malone off the streets once and for all. As for Clancy, he struggles with his representation of the repugnant Malone, but justifies his defense by claiming he's doing it to ensure the sanctity of Malone's constitutional rights. McLean writes trial scenes well and distinguishes herself by moving some of the action out of the courtroom. However, she also requires the reader to suspend common sense and swallow the premise that the present guardians of Boston's justice system routinely behave like a bunch of squabbling kids fighting over whose turn it is at bat. Melodramatic and implausible in places, but still entertaining.
From the Publisher
 

Praise for Margaret McLean

 

“On your shelf of legal thrillers, move the Grishams aside and make room for Margaret McLean. She’s got all the knowledge of an insider and —more importantly—all the skills of a great storyteller. She’ll take you into the offices and the holding cells and the courtrooms, and you’ll believe every detail and nuance. Then she’ll start to heighten and tighten and twist and turn, and you won’t be able to put the book down. Go and read it.”

—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of City of Dreams, on Under Fire

 

"McLean's first novel takes the reader on a terrific journey through the machinations of Boston law. Under Fire is a compelling legal thriller with vivid characters, a realistic feel to the proceedings, and a case that ignites our interest practically on the first page. McLean, a law professor and former criminal prosecutor, knows her stuff and, even better, knows how to translate it to fiction."

Booklist

"Authentic and compelling, a reflection of McLean’s skill as a writer and her years as an assistant district attorney for Essex County."

The Patriot Ledger on Under Fire

 

"This fast-paced debut legal thriller by a former criminal prosecutor offers an interesting immigrant twist. It should appeal to Richard North Patterson fans."

Library Journal on Under Fire

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765328137
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.56 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret McLean

Margaret McLean was born and raised in Rome, New York. She graduated magna cum laude from Boston College and earned her law degree from Boston College Law School. McLean practiced law as a criminal prosecutor and currently teaches law at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. In 2010, she was hailed as one of the next faces of Boston crime fiction by The Boston Globe. She has cowritten a dramatic courtroom play based on her second novel, Under Oath, which is in development with the Playwrights/Directors Unit at the Actors Studio in New York City. She lives in Norwell, Massachusetts, with her three children.

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Read an Excerpt

Under Oath


By Margaret McLean

Forge Books

Copyright © 2012 Margaret McLean
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780765328137

1
 

Presentation of evidence before the Grand Jury of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, against William Joseph Malone. Murder indictment pending. November twenty-first.

DO YOU SWEAR to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
Please help me God.
“Miss?” the clerk said.
See nothing, hear nothing …
“Miss?” The clerk cleared his throat.
“I do.” Jennianne’s right hand trembled. Stop now, save yourself. She counted thirteen lint specks in the courtroom rug.
“Good morning.” Annie Fitzgerald’s voice carried across the room and seemed to hover in the air before it landed. Jennianne felt the intensity of the prosecutor’s Asian-shaped eyes without even looking at her. She was Fitzgerald’s star witness before the grand jury, which meant she had to break the code.
“Please introduce yourself to the ladies and gentlemen of the grand jury.” Fitzgerald sounded anxious.
Jennianne peeked through an opening in her yellow bangs, and examined row by row of wooden benches where the public usually sat. They were empty as Fitzgerald had promised. She glanced at the defense table. Empty, too. Thank God. She could never do this in front of him. Her gaze shifted to the right. Nothing but the dark paneled wall, the American flag, and the elevated judge’s bench. And to the left? She spotted the gold-fringed Massachusetts flag, and just beyond that … two rows of grand jurors, leaning forward, staring. She resumed counting specks in the rug.
“Please tell us your name.” Fitzgerald’s voice dropped an octave.
“Jennianne.”
“Okay. And your last?”
“Smith.” She finally made eye contact with Fitzgerald. Why did she have to be the one to do this? Couldn’t Fitzgerald find someone else? Why did they pick this case? Billy Malone would win. He always did.
“How old are you?”
“Twenty-eight.” Too young to die.
“Where do you live?”
Where do I live? No one was supposed to know about the safe house except Detective Callahan. Billy would find her and kill her. There were three rules of survival: You see nothing, you hear nothing, and you never talk to cops. Jennianne had broken all three.
“Just tell us where you’re from.”
“Charlestown.” Jennianne tried to connect with Fitzgerald by looking through her eyes and into her soul. You know he’s going to kill me. Please don’t make me do this. Please, please, please, Annie. Don’t.
“Do you recall November tenth of last year?” Fitzgerald kept her voice steady.
Jennianne knew Fitzgerald would forge ahead at all costs. Can’t you just leave me alone? She inhaled deeply and nodded.
“Miss, please respond with a verbal answer,” the judge said.
“Mmm hmm.” Jennianne’s mouth went dry; her tongue shriveled. “Yes.”
“Do you recall what you were doing at approximately seven P.M.?”
See nothing, hear nothing, never talk to cops. Jennianne shivered. Detective Callahan had tossed her in jail and forced her into this. Fitzgerald, too. Her gaze flickered across the rows of grand jurors. According to Callahan, she needed their votes. She closed her eyes and recalled his words as they drove from the safe house that morning: “If twelve or more vote in favor of an indictment, the case will go to superior court.”
“What if you don’t get twelve votes?” Jennianne had asked.
“We’ll end up with a ‘no bill,’ and if that happens, the complaint against Billy Malone will be dismissed.”
“He’d walk free?”
“Yup.”
“What’ll happen to me?”
Callahan had shrugged. “You’d go back to the projects.”
“But, he’ll kill me because he knows.”
“You’ll have to fend for yourself. So, if I were you, I’d do a real knock-up job today.”
“Jennianne?” Fitzgerald cleared her throat. “Shall I repeat the question?”
God help me. Jennianne opened her eyes, saw the grand jurors, and closed them again. She felt the sensation of cold air blowing across the nape of her neck, raising the tiny hairs. She pictured an emaciated Trevor Shea sitting behind that splintered easel of his, painting his life away. Ever since they were in first grade together with Sister Peg, Trevor had painted. What were you really doing all these years, Trev?
Without Jennianne’s voice, Trevor’s case would be tossed into that big box along with the rest of the unsolved murders. Fitzgerald had piled all those dead cases in a heap on the conference table in front of her. All twenty-six.
“What happened on November tenth?”
You killed yourself.
“Jennianne?”

 
Copyright © 2012 by Margaret McLean


Continues...

Excerpted from Under Oath by Margaret McLean Copyright © 2012 by Margaret McLean. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    Outstanding Boston Crime Novel

    Margaret McLean's UNDER OATH is an excellent first novel from a former prosecutor who knows the workings of the criminal courts inside and out. The courtroom segments of the book are by far the best, as the action takes place against the backdrop of the murder trial of two hoodlums from Charlestown, Massachusetts. The victim was from the same neighborhood as the accused Malone brothers, and the legendary 'code of silence' is always in the background as the trial unfolds. Malone thugs fiendishly locate and silence government witnesses before they can testify, and the victim's sister finds herself partnered with the chief detective as they attempt to undo the damage done to the prosecution's case. McLean's legal expertise and experience are evident throughout the book, ranging from an insolent bailiff to a biased juror, and by the book's suspense-filled end the reader will agree with one character's observation that 'The law is far from logical'. Part ALL SOULS and part BLACK MASS, McLean has written a worthy addition to Boston literature and I hope we see more of her work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2005

    Couldn't put it down

    Full of suspense right up to the very last page. This is Ms McLean's first book and it is a stunning portrayal of the justice system in the Boston area. She really knows of what she writes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 20, 2014

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    Posted September 28, 2012

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