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Prime Witness Hardcover – July 21, 1993

Book 2 of 13 in the Paul Madriani Novels Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The ugly marketplace of justice"--as one character terms the judicial process--is scrutinized with a riveting, you-are-there immediacy in the new legal procedural by the author of Compelling Evidence. When attorney Paul Madriani offers to assist a friend--the county's ailing district attorney, who subsequently dies--in investigating six brutal killings, he becomes entangled in a series of machinations that threaten his career and even his private life. Though Martini's plotting proves ingenious (the story is capped off by a nail-biting encounter in a darkened courtroom), the legal maneuvers themselves take center stage here. From the crime scene--the banks of California's Putah Creek--to a deceptively simple arrest to fascinating pre-trial scheming, Martini packs his novel with the quotidian details of the wheels of justice--and the numerous cogs therein. Madriani's first-person, present-tense narration invigorates the often intricate proceedings with first-rate wisecracks and one-liners. His character descriptions are by turns pithy and funny (frequently both): the prosecuting attorney "looks like nothing so much as Robert Duvall's incarnation of the Great Santini"; the county's female victim-witness coordinator is "the crime victim's answer to Don Corleone in drag . . . known as 'Attila the Hen.' " Prime is indeed the word for this involving read.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-When Paul Madriani agrees to fill in temporarily as Special County Prosecutor, he has no idea that he will become involved in a serial murder case. The search for the "Putah Creek Killer" leads to the arrest of a college security guard, Andre Iganovich. Adrian Chambers, the defense counsel, has a shady professional past and a deep-seated dislike for Madriani, who was instrumental in the attorney's previous suspension from the bar association. As the evidence unfolds, discrepancies between the first two double murders and the third one become apparent, leading the prosecution to believe that a copy-cat murderer is on the loose. Threats against Madriani's family, legal posturing, the identification of a witness to the third set of murders, and a killer's desperation combine to produce a thrilling story.
Grace Baun, R.E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (July 21, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399138021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399138027
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.4 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Martini was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. An honors graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, he holds a law degree from the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law.

Martini's first career was in journalism. He worked as a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles and as a correspondent at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, specializing in legal issues. In 1974 he entered private law practice in California, where he appeared in both state and federal courts. During his legal career, he worked as a legislative representative for the State Bar of California, served as special counsel to the California Victims of Violent Crimes Program, and was an administrative law judge and supervising hearing officer.

In 1984 Martini turned his talents to fiction, quickly earning positions on bestseller lists. All but his first book spent time on the New York Times Bestsellers list. To date, he has authored twelve novels, including eight featuring his popular lawyer alter ego, Paul Madriani.
In 1996 Undue Influence aired as a four-hour miniseries on CBS, followed by The Judge on NBC in 2001.

Customer Reviews

The end seems unbelievable and just comes too quickly.
Robert Von Gerds
I had a hard time putting this book down and plan to order the next Madriani books in the Kindle editions!
Joan Shulman
Paul is very good at setting the characters and their respective roles in the novel.
John Cannata

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Edwards VINE VOICE on October 12, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a bit puzzled at the negative reviews of this book. This is the one that started me on the path to becoming a Steve Martini fan. Granted this isn't his best courtroom thriller, but it is STILL above just about anything written by the incredibly over-rated John Grisham. But let's not judge this book based on other authors. The storyline is well-plotted, and very engrossing. The forensics used to trace the evidence to the so-called perp's is not only interesting, but very entertaining and informative as well. It has been many years since I picked up this novel, and I STILL have very fond memories of how much I enjoyed it. I think one of the best things about this book is how it kept you in the dark as to whether or not the 3rd murder was a copycat or not. Give it a shot, it's not literature, but it IS a fun read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Von Gerds on August 21, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Prime Witness kept me glued to my seat for several evenings. For about 380 of the 400 pages, it is a real page turner. In the second book in the Paul Madriani series, our hero ends up being the District Attorney of Davenport county, a small rural county in which several serial murders have been committed. When the killer is caught, Madriani feels there is another murderer, probably a copycat at work. From there the book keeps a steady pace and the pages begin to turn themselves until about page 380. Then, all of a sudden Steve Martini must have either run out of steam, or maybe he just wanted to get the book over with. The end seems unbelievable and just comes too quickly. Still worth reading though.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Beverley Strong on April 28, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reading this book is like being stuck at a table with a number of lawyers at a social event...they're alright on their own but, get them in a group, talking shop, and they're the most boring people possible to anyone outside that legal circle. A serial killer is loose in a university town, killing couples in a vile, ritualistic fashion, when the bodies of yet another couple are found, supposedly killed in the same way. Paul Madriani is working as the town's temporary Chief Prosecutor when Andre Iganovich, a Russian immigrant, working as a security guard at the University, is arrested and charged with the murders. The details of the investigation and eventual solving of the crime is, no doubt, absolutely right, but to anyone who doesn't work in criminal law, the legal minutiae is not only beyond the comprehension of the untrained mind, but is deadly dull into the bargain.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By lee freke on May 25, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have refrained from reviewing Steve Martini's books even after consuming a slew of them, mistakenly believing his work will speak for him.

It appears not!

For those who doubt his ability, and are content to take potshots, I recommend Prime Witness.

When a killer who was on the lam is caught over the border in Canada, there is relief in the community that the murderer has been caught. Now they want justice--justice for the the spate of double murders that took place over a period of months. Enter Paul Madriani and Adrian Chambers.

Paul has been appointed temporary DA of Davenport county, and is the lead prosecutor in this case; Adrian, his arch-enemy, will be defending Iganovicth, the alleged killer.

Getting Iganovitch convicted could be the least of Madriani's woes, because he must deal with a possible copycat killer, the quicksand of county politics, two backstabbing justices, and an adversary for whom hitting below the belt is akin to a pat on the back.

Paul Madriani's hope in all this is to find the elusive Prime Witness.

The book finishes on a high note; with a conclusion that leaves you with the stark reality: you've been following the wrong scent.

This book lacks the courtroom drama other books in the series have: That might be because Paul is playing in the wrong team--according to Harry Hinds. Instead there is a greater emphasis on the legal process.

I love the brief descriptions of the Coconut and the Prussian, the colorful painting of Chambers; the other characters enliven the story. I do have misgivings about the level of estrangement of Paul's wife.

Like most books in this genre, this one is simply written, though unlike many others, of which I could name a few, this one is highly entertaining.

The Prime Witness is definitely worth a peek.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tired on November 27, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It was well-enough written. I did not like, however, that 15/16ths-ish of the book built up 'bile' at injustices: these were addressed in what little space was left. For me, that aspect was overdone. 3.5 if I could.

Martini's books were handed down to me. I WILL start reading the next one in the Madriani series: they're interesting enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Drewlou on February 27, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Not a bad book just a little lackluster. Good plot but kind of boring. I loved Critical Mass and thought this was gonna be as good?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ronald W. Durham on August 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Prime Witness is another great read from Steve Martini. You will hate to put this book down until it is finished.
RWD
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eugene J. Walden on May 2, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I found "Prime Witness" to be a great read for my first venture into the writings of Steve Martini. Paul Madriani, acting as the temporary Chief Prosecutor, finds himself up against long time arch-enemy, Adrean Chambers, who is the defense attorney for the Russian suspect Andre Iganovich.

The plot, well written and developed, starts with a series of double murders committed by a so called "serial killer" who is thought to be the Russian emigrant Iganovich. The investigation and the trial are all part of a well thought out and developed plot line, with explosive confrontations between the legal parties, and a totally unexpected and utterly surprising ending. Well worth the time and effort to read. Martini at his best!!

E.J. Walden, author of "Operation Snow Owl"
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