Review: Boston suburb Charlestown may have more crimes per square mile than any other place in the United States. It may also be the hardest place for a prosecutor to win a conviction, as its residents live by a code of silence where no one interferes with a crime as it takes place or talks about it afterwards. Still, Annie Fitzgerald is determined to put one Billy Malone behind bars for the rest of his life; his attorney Buddy Clancy is just as determined to see him go free. But who's on trial here? Billy Malone … or the lawyers fighting over his future? That may be the real question being asked in Under Oath, an outstanding courtroom thriller by Margaret McLean.
Billy Malone is accused of killing Trevor Shea, a young artist. And almost certainly there were witnesses to the crime, though no one has admitted to seeing him do it. They fear Billy more behind bars than free on the street. They need to look no further than Jennianne Smith, Billy's ex-girlfriend, a key witness before the grand jury that indicted Billy, but a mute one when it came time to testify in open court; she was dead. Both the prosecution and defense know that winning the case may, in large part, come down to their own personalities, that the jury will judge Billy more on how they perceive Annie Fitzgerald or Buddy Clancy. It's a game of chess, with moves and countermoves, the outcome uncertain until the verdict is read.
Under Oath is legal drama at its very finest. The narrative is written in a polished, compelling manner, the distinctive characters drawn with singular complexity, the plot unfolding in unexpected ways as the trial wears on and more evidence is uncovered. Readers will find it hard to put this book down, and when finished will likely remember it as one of the best thrillers of the year.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Under Oath.
Acknowledgment: Jane Wesman Public Relations provided a copy of Under Oath for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Under Oath: Boston, Massachusetts
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Under Oath by Margaret McLean
Publisher: Forge Books
Publication Date: April 2012
List Price: $25.99