Edgar Award-winner Ellis (Life Sentence; Line of Vision) chooses a protagonist common to a number of recent legal thrillers: the idealistic, semi-loner nonprofit lawyer with a dark secret. Michelle "Shelly" Trotter is working for the Children's Advocacy Project when she is summoned by a former client, 17-year-old Alex Baniewicz, whom she once represented in a high school disciplinary hearing. This time Alex isn't going to get off with an in-school suspension; he's accused of killing a Chicago cop. Even though Shelly has little experience in criminal court, she tears into the case with pit bull intensity. She waits too long before she asks Alex if he actually did the deed, but when she does, he admits to the killing, complicating his already impossible defense. Shelly has other difficulties as well: she has a troubled relationship with her father, the governor of the state; she's still suffering from the effects of being raped and impregnated as a teenager; her apartment is broken into and she's threatened with death; and the police on the Chicago force are making it quite clear how they feel about cop-killer defense lawyers. Unfortunately, Shelly is not the most likable of heroines, and the prose is lackluster, but Ellis makes up for much of this with a steady stream of twists and complications. Once Shelly is on her feet in front of a jury, the novel picks up speed, and a stunning Perry Mason-style courtroom shocker will knock readers right out of their seats. After they pick themselves up off the floor, the ensuing fast and furious revelations will have them flying through the final pages. (Apr.) Forecast: It's a crowded field, but loyal fans and constant readers of the genre should provide good, if not breakout, numbers. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Ellis's (Life Sentence) latest courtroom tale centers on Shelly Trotter, lawyer, children's rights advocate, and estranged daughter of a Midwestern governor. She is called to defend a young teenage friend accused of murdering a cop, but her client is less than cooperative in assisting in his defense. Is he working for a dangerous drug gang or working for law enforcement agents attempting to shut them down? The situation becomes more difficult when Shelly learns that the defendant may be the son she gave up for adoption after she was raped. Or, maybe he's not. While the story has compelling characters, it contains several less-than-surprising attempts at plot twists. Reader Sandra Burr does an excellent job; for larger audio collections. Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A lawyer defends her son-or thinks she does-in a trial that's packed with surprise and significance. Once again (Life Sentence, 2003, etc.), Ellis's larger subject is the law and the treacherous eddies that can pull down a case, its just issues notwithstanding. His third outing starts with Shelly Trotter, an attorney who represents troubled students at the Child Advocacy Project in a city Ellis doesn't name but that appears to be Chicago, his hometown. One of Shelly's charges, the appealing Alex Baniewicz, is accused of dealing drugs and shooting and killing police officer Raymond Miroballi. Shelly wants attorney Paul Riley to take the case, but Riley entreats Shelly to do it. Shelly hesitates, never having tried a capital murder case. But even more of a concern than that is a matter she recently uncovered: Baniewicz is apparently her son. In a series of flashbacks, Ellis traces Shelly's troubled past. After being raped, she considered abortion, but decided instead to put her son up for adoption, an incident that, if made public, could derail the reelection campaign of her father, conservative Governor Langdon Trotter. Another complication comes from federal agents who inform Shelly that Alex was their snitch in an attempt to nab officer Miroballi, who, they suspect, had been dealing drugs. Building a case to defend Alex, Shelly investigates a violent drug gang justly known as the Cannibals, probing Alex's possible involvement with the gang, as well as that of his friend Ronnie Masters, who gradually emerges as Miroballi's suspected killer. Then comes another revelation: Ronnie, a likely killer, is Shelly's son, not Alex. This twist sets the story's last third spinning as Ellis tightens,then ties up, a solid case. Unlike the mob of hacks who want to be the next Grisham, Ellis is never glib, hackneyed, or tiresome. In style, plot, and character, he engages and entertains. Agent: Jeff Gerecke/JCA Literary Agency