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.


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.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Paul Madriani Series , #3
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
543 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

A writer before he was an attorney, Mr. Martini worked as a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles and a capital correspondent at the state house in Sacramento, California. It was while he covered the “Helter Skelter” murder trial, and watched prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi in action, that he became interested in the law.

An honors graduate at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Mr. Martini holds his law degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. He has written widely on the law and politics, having covered both state and federal courts, the state legislature, and the administrations of governors Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown.

In 1974 Mr. Martini entered private law practice with the Sacramento firm of CoBen, Cooper and Zilaff where he represented clients in both civil and criminal matters. In 1976 he joined the staff of the State Bar of California and was selected as one of three representatives of the Bar assigned to appear regularly before the California State Legislature. Mr. Martini has drafted numerous pieces of legislation affecting California’s justice system. Among other items, he was instrumental in crafting ballot arguments for a constitutional overhaul of the state’s Commission on Judicial Appointments and the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, the agencies charged with confirming those nominated to the appellate courts in California and disciplining errant judges.

In 1986 he was appointed by the Governor to serve as Deputy Director of the State Office of Administrators Hearings. He has served as an administrative judge and as a special council on assignment from the Governor’s Office to the California Victims of Violent Crimes Program.

From his first book through his last, Martini has garnered both critical and popular praise for his New York Times bestselling novels. To date, he has authored ten books, The Simeon Chamber, Compelling Evidence, Prime Witness, Undue Influence, The Judge, The List, Critical Mass, The Attorney, The Jury  and The Arraignment, as well as numerous news articles and commentary on the law and politics. His novel The Judge was made into an NBC-TV miniseries that starred Chris Noth and aired in May 2001. Mr. Martini lives on the West Coast.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 28, 1946
Place of Birth:
San Francisco, California
B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz, 1968; J.D., University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 1974

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Undue Influence 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.