Undue Influence (Paul Madriani Series #3)

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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.

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Undue Influence (Paul Madriani Series #3)

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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.

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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

  • ISBN-13: 9780515116052
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/28/1995
  • Series: Paul Madriani Series , #3
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 480
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.74 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Martini's novels include five bestsellers featuring lawyer Paul Madriani, most recently The Attorney. He lives on the West Coast.


Writer-turned-lawyer-turned-writer, Steve Martini has established himself as a bankable literary star in the legal thriller genre. His titles, many starring that embattled esquire Paul Madriani, have taut, two-word titles: The List, The Judge, The Jury, The Attorney. And he gets raves for his taut plots as well. A Detroit Free Press reporter once confessed that when she accidentally left her plane ticket and Martini novel in an airport restroom, she frantically dropped out of line at the gate and ran back to the ladies room -- for the book.

Martini began his writing career as a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal newspaper, where he covered the California statehouse in the early 1970s. He specifically went to work for a legal publication because he planned to practice law. And, after receiving his law degree from the University of the Pacific in northern California, he set aside his reporter's notebook for private practice.

On the side, he continued to write, and he published his first novel, The Simeon Chamber in 1988, in which an attorney and his client are endangered by their possession of what may be the diaries of Sir Francis Drake and are in a chase that takes them to San Simeon, the castle-style estate in California built by William Randolph Hearst.

In 1992, Martini published his second book, Compelling Evidence, a taut thriller that introduced his popular recurring character, attorney Paul Madriani. In the novel, Madriani defends his former mistress on charges that she murdered her husband, the man who just happened to be the senior partner at Madriani's law firm. A national bestseller, the novel won the author a critical and popular following. Since then, with few exceptions, Madriani has been the centerpiece of Martini's fiction, squaring off against slick politicians, politically ambitious prosecutors, and a compelling cast of flawed clients with agendas all their own.

Although Martini is now a full-time writer, his long tenure in the legal trenches has obviously left its mark. Nowhere do his legal thrillers ring more true than in the courtroom scenes, which have won the praise of the master himself, fellow attorney-turned-bestselling novelist John Grisham. In assessing his colleague's skills, Grisham has said: "Steve Martini is a master of the genre...He writes with the agile, episodic style of a lawyer quick on his feet and one step ahead of his many enemies."

Good To Know

Martini covered the Charles Manson murder case in the 1960s as a reporter for The Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal newspaper.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Steven Paul Martini
    2. Hometown:
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 28, 1946
    2. Place of Birth:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz, 1968; J.D., University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 1974

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2001

    Try this author out.....you will enjoy him!!!!

    Just started reading Steve Martini and this author is great. Courtroom dialogue doesn't drag, plot full of surprises and characters ring true. I really enjoy this legal writer!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014

    One of the best books I have ever read. It's the 3rd time I re

    One of the best books I have ever read. It's the 3rd time I read it. Read it 2 x when it first came out, saw the TV movie and recently read it again. All of this author's books are great but this one is the greatest. Court room scenes don't drag, plot full of surprises. It is really a page turner. I could not put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2002

    This is Martini's best book!

    I've read all of Martini's books and this one is still my favorite. It is also the first book of his that I've read. I think the last three books he's put it are not worth reading. Start with this one if you've not read any of his other books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2001

    Martini's Best

    Okay, I haven't read 'The Jury,' yet, but out of all the others, which I admit are good, 'Undue Influence' had me going till the very end. Another review mentioned Martini's 'lame similies.' I find his character descriptions and metaphors extremely creative and descriptive.

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