Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Tenth Case By Joseph Teller

This is the first novel by Joseph Teller, a former undercover agent for the Bureau of Narcotics, and a trial lawyer for many years, who uses his experience and skills to create which may be an alter ego protagonist, Harrison J. Walker, “Jaywalker”. I was fortunate to read an advance copy.

Readers have many choices when it comes to Police detectives, private investigators, and lawyers solving, investigating and either prosecuting or defending and most are carrying some kind of baggage or have an attitude. If the author is good, we want to read more; best examples are Patterson’s Alex Cross or Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme. I liked Teller’s Jaywalker, he‘s a likeable “good guy”.

Jaywalker is a maverick New York lawyer who honed his skills as a public defender and is the kind of lawyer you would want if you run afoul of the law – some one who, really, cares and is not afraid to “bend a few rules” if it will get his client free. His success ratio is in the high 90’s.

Jaywalker is in trouble; his reputation and a perceived unseemly action with a female client have caused the court to suspend his license for a period of three years. The suspension does not, particularly, bother Jaywalker but he is concerned about the clients that are depending on him so he strikes a bargain with the court who allows him to select ten cases to bring to conclusion. It takes a while to work them out but his last one, The Tenth Case, a murder, will become the most challenging and difficult case he has tackled. His client, a beautiful young woman, is accused of stabbing her husband. The woman, Samara Moss, former Las Vegas showgirl and some time prostitute, married billionaire Barry Tannenbaum, three times divorced and 44 years older than her. The marriage lasted eight years although after the first few months, they set up separate households and Samara spent his money and slept around as she was wont to do. Husband and wife met social obligations together but lived apart. Jaywalker had defended Samara on a drunk driving charge when she totaled Barry’s $400,000 Lamborghini and was very well compensated but this time, Jaywalker will have to settle for the same wages that a public defender would get.

The problem with the case was “why?”; Samara had it made, she has money, clothes and total freedom to do what she wishes. The evidence against her was overwhelming and most of it was found in her own home. There was also an application signed by Samara dated shortly before his murder for a six month life insurance policy in the amount of $25,000,000 on Barry. Samara denies her guilt.

The characters are carefully developed and the plot and the action moves fast and smoothly. This became a very suspenseful novel.

The court drama was interesting, we follow the preparation, dialogue and interaction between the prosecutor and Jaywalker and the Judge and I was never certain about the outcome. I found it hard to put the book down until I finished it. MIRA Books is ready to publish another “Jaywalker” novel, I look forward to reading it

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