I’ve been a Steve Martini fan for a long time. His hero, attorney Paul Madriani, has been at the center of some of the best courtroom drama in recent fiction.
With “Guardian of Lies,” however, Martini attempts to turn Madriani into an action hero – with disastrous results.
The story begins with a mysterious woman from Costa Rica who is charged with murdering her much older lover, a rare coin dealer. While the murder-for-hire is set up to look like a burglary, it really has to do with a photograph the coin dealer found on his lover’s camera. Turns out the camera belongs the woman’s mother, who, in turn, is the daughter of an elderly Russian soldier who was involved in the 1963 Cuban missile crisis.
Madriani gets involved in the case because he had a chance meeting with the lovely young woman on the sidewalks of San Diego while her lover was involved in a business transaction. During the course of the brief encounter, Madriani gave the girl his card. When she’s arrested for the murder of her lover and his hapless maid, she calls on Madriani and the chaos begins.
Confused? You have every right to be. Martini is the master in bringing a complicated legal case to life on the pages of a book, but ensnaring his courtroom ace in a mess like this is just wrong.
Guardian of Lies - By Steve Martini - William Morrow Publishing.
$26.99. 448 pp.
One out of five stars
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