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Absolute Certainty    by Rose Connors order for
Absolute Certainty
by Rose Connors
Order:  USA  Can
Scribner, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Mystery and thriller genres abound with books about lawyers. The best include novels by Scott Turow and Lisa Scottoline. For others to stand out from the crowded arena, they must have something special. Absolute Certainty is distinguished by a deep sincerity that feels very real.

Connors is a former criminal defense attorney from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, just like her protagonist Marty Nickerson. She gives us the story of a criminal case that appears to be all wrapped up at the novel's beginning. Manuel Rodriguez has just been convicted of murdering a college student near the beach in Chatham, Cape Cod, with Marty as the prosecutor. But then another young man is found murdered in similar circumstances with the number II on his chest.

Marty is appalled that they may have convicted the wrong man, but her superiors in the District Attorney's office (including her ambitious supervisor Geraldine Schilling) do not want to hear any of her doubts. Schilling is running for DA in the next election and campaigning on her office's successes. The situation becomes even more complex when a hapless local drunk is arrested for the second murder with evidence that appears to have been fabricated, and then a third murder occurs.

Connors skillfully describes the Cape Cod setting, showing it as an almost separate world from the mainland with its own tangled political and social relationships. She has also mined her own law experience to bring the legal processes interestingly to life. As Marty attempts to solve the mystery and prevent another young man like her teenage son Jake from being murdered, she becomes increasingly disillusioned with the legal system. This is where the sincerity shows through, and her deep feelings seem very real. One wonders if Connors herself has experienced the same kind of frustrations.

The book does have its flaws, mainly in the denouement. This first-time author is a bit too quick and facile in her ending. However, all in all, the book is a good read, especially in its heartfelt message about the fallibility of the legal system.

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