Undue Influence (Paul Madriani Series #3)

Undue Influence (Paul Madriani Series #3)

4.2 10
by Steve Martini

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Defense attorney Paul Madriani is mired in a complex web of intrigue and murder when the sister of his late wife, embroiled in a bitter custody battle with her former husband, becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her ex-husband and his new young wife.See more details below


Defense attorney Paul Madriani is mired in a complex web of intrigue and murder when the sister of his late wife, embroiled in a bitter custody battle with her former husband, becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her ex-husband and his new young wife.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A vicious custody battle escalates into a murder trial in this gripping courtroom drama, Martini's third to be narrated by defense attorney Paul Madriani ( Compelling Evidence , Prime Witness ). Before Madriani's wife, Nikki, died of lung cancer, she asked that Madriani look after her sister, Laurel, who's now going through a bruising custody battle with her ex-husband, Jack Vega. When Jack's young new wife, Melanie, is murdered, all the evidence points to Laurel as the killer: not only was she was seen threatening Melanie and arguing with her just before the murder, but when she's captured by the police, she has the dead woman's compact in her purse. Madriani takes on Laurel's case, but it's an uphill battle. Potential witnesses for the defense have mysteriously disappeared; while searching for them and pursuing other leads, Madriani uncovers evidence that points to a very different motive for murder--and a very obvious suspect. The action builds to a rousing climax through a brilliant series of trial scenes with several surprises. The characters are sharply drawn, the facts of the case are presented simply and the courtroom psychology is laid out vividly. Martini, who knows how to tell a story, wastes little time setting up his premise; by the time the trial starts, readers will find their fingers glued to the pages. 175,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection. ( July)
Library Journal
Recently widowered lawyer Paul Madriani has problems with his sister-in-law Laurel. She is involved in a nasty custody trial, and then she is arrested for the murder of her ex-husband's new wife. After Paul agrees to represent her, he gets sucked into a vipers' tangle involving Laurel, her two children, her ex-husband, a beautiful attorney, a bombing, and mistaken identities. Martini's dialog and characterizations are first-rate. Martini (Prime Witness, Putnam, 1993) has created a slam-bang narrative complete with astonishingly good trial scenes. Filled with surprises and twists, this is supremely readable and certain to be extremely popular. [Literary Guild selection.]-Robert H. Donahugh, formerly with Youngstown & Mahoning Cty. P.L., Ohio
School Library Journal
YA-Lawyer-hero Paul Madriani returns, this time as a widower. His sister-in-law, Laurel, is in a bitter fight for custody of her two teenage children, with Madriani helping from the sidelines. Her ex-husband is a slick politician who has married an equally sleazy woman. When the new wife is murdered, Laurel is arrested. Madriani defends her, facing what appears to be insurmountable evidence. At the same time, he must deal with his own seven-year-old daughter, his troubled niece and nephew, a ruthless prosecutor, a vengeful police lieutenant, a beautiful attorney with whom he has an affair, and a killer who is now after him. The novel shares the flaws of its genre: the characters are flat, the plot contorted, and the writing uneven. Martini persists in describing gestures and facial expressions that should stand on their own, and then interprets them for readers. And he sprinkles his writing with lame hard-boiled similes. However, the good guys are likable, the bad guys are hateful, and the trial scenes are riveting. YAs should enjoy the page-turning suspense.-Chip Barnett, Rockbridge Regional Library, Lexington, VA
Emily Melton
Martini's track record as a best-selling thriller writer--"Compelling Evidence" (1992), "Prime Witness" --is well established, so it's a safe bet that his latest novel will draw a crowd. It features the return of defense attorney Paul Madriani, now defending his sister-in-law, Laurel, on a murder charge. Recently divorced, Laurel has been involved in a bitter custody battle for her two children. Her ex-husband, remarried to a conniving bimbo, is about to win custody when his new wife is found shot to death in her bathtub. Although all the evidence points to Laurel, she swears she didn't do it. Madriani takes on the case and vows to win despite all the odds: a ruthless prosecutor, a cop with a bitter vendetta against him, and a mounting suspicion that Laurel is hiding something. Martini's plot is inventive, the courtroom scenes are dazzling, and the climax is guaranteed to shock. The down side? Unless a good editor tackles the manuscript (granted, this review is based on an advance galley) and can clear up the shocking number of punctuation and grammar errors, the clunky run-on sentences, and the truly unforgivable dialogue, which is full of bad teen talk ("So, like, he goes . . ."), Martini's mesmerizing courtroom drama may sink in the quicksand of clumsy prose.

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Paul Madriani Series, #3
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.74(w) x 10.92(h) x 1.01(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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