There's nothing hard-edged or particularly profound about Jonnie Jacobs's series of mysteries starring California lawyer Kali O'Brien, but--like good TV movies--the plots are convincing, the characters colorful, and the writing smooth and competent. The author's latest finds O'Brien handling a trial in her hometown in the Sierra foothills for a lawyer friend, Nina Barrett, who is five months pregnant and just diagnosed as having Hodgkin's disease.
When Nina's husband, Grady--a handsome and successful businessman with a history of sexual conquests--is accused of rape by a blowsy woman he met at a party, Kali very reluctantly agrees to defend him. She is virtually certain that the swaggering Barrett is guilty, and resents his betrayal of her sick friend. But as the investigation and trial proceed, Kali gradually begins to believe his claims of innocence--especially when two people die in suspicious circumstances. Jacobs succeeds in catching and holding readers' interest by setting up her characters as generic and then proceeding to fill in the relevant details that make them unique. Other Kali O'Brien books in paperback are Evidence of Guilt and Shadow of Doubt. --Dick Adler