Summary: A Decent Mystery
Comment: Jonnie Jacobs' writing has gotten significantly more sophisticated since her first Kate Austen mystery more than a decade ago. With multiple plot turns, layered characters, and vivid descriptions, Witness for the Defense definitely holds its own. There are some issues with plotting (would a wealthy couple with money to burn really opt for a defense lawyer no one has ever heard of, and who handles adoptions as well as criminal defense? Is it a little too unlikely that several plot lines would be tied together so neatly?), but overall, the book kept me guessing on several fronts until the end. The final revelations were more than a little bit out of left field, but I'm willing to overlook them in favor of Jacobs' clear, compelling writing.
Summary: My first Jonnie Jacobs, but not my last!
Comment: This book held my interest & was quite engaging. Not exactly a page-turner that I could not put down, but one I certainly had no trouble coming back to. Kali O'Brien is a likeable heroine and I look forward to reading more in the series. Recommended reading in the legal mystery/suspense genre.
Summary: To Adopt or Not to Adopt
Comment: A plot with issues straight from current events...adoption, rights of birth parents, what's best for the child, emotional issues of natural and adoptive parents. Throw in a murder and a trail without a clear cut idea of "who done it" and it's a good read.
A high profile couple has identified a young pregnant girl who is willing to allow them to adopt her baby. Shortly after the birth of the baby, Bram Weaver, a controversial talk show host, arrives on the scene claiming to be the father and insisting that he wants the baby himself. Kali O'Brien is the attorney of record for the couple because her former lover with excess emotional baggage is the brother of the adoptive mother. The talk show host is brutally murdered and Kali is left to defend the adoptive mother all the while trying to find out who actually did kill Bram Weaver.
Summary: Entertaining courtroom drama
Comment: I thoroughly enjoyed my first outing with Jonnie Jacobs' legal heroine Kali O'Brien. Returning to San Francisco after her married lover returned to his wife, Kali is just putting her life back together when another former boyfriend, Steven Cross, refers his sister Terri Harper to Kali to handle a pending adoption. Harper lost a child earlier when a parent changed her mind before the adoption was final so she sought legal advice. Things go haywire when a controversial radio talk show host, Bram Weaver, claims the child is his and announces his intention to gain custody. When Weaver is brutually murdered, Terri is picked up as the most likely subject.
Throughout the development and conduct of Terri's defense, Kali seeks to find other explanations of the circumstantial evidence against her client but desperately tries to find out alternative suspects. There are several interesting side plots, including resumption of a love interest between Kali and Steven Cross and the uncovering of the hit and run killer of Cross's wife and daughter.
I thought I discovered the real murderer through several obsure clues and was pretty sure I was right until the very end. The ending was a bit disappointing as the conclusion of several plot lines unraveled all at once in an unbelievable way.
Still the story was intriguing, the characters--including Kali's senior citizen roommates--likable and interesting and I had a great weekend read.
Summary: a real page-turner
Comment: This is a great book that kept me reading late into the night. Just when I thought the story had settled in to a certain direction, it took a twist that raised new questions and sent it off on a different path. The courtroom scenes were interesting and believable, the characters well-developed, and the writing smooth. I've enjoyed all this author's books, but Witness for the Defense is one of her best. A wealthy and well-known San Francisco couple, a hate-mongering radio host, a pregnant teenage girl with secrets of her own, a missing murder witness, and a sleuth whose involvement in the case isn't as straightforward as it first appears all add up to a winning combination.