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Silent Witness (Tony Lord) Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 201 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Tony Lord Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In each successive novel since Degree of Guilt, Richard North Patterson has experimented with flashbacks and past tragedies to drive the present suspense of his legal thrillers. Silent Witness is, perhaps, his greatest achievement with the technique as his hero, Tony Lord, is haunted by the 27-year-old murder of his high school girlfriend, Alison Taylor.

In the late 1960s, Tony is the star of the Lake City, Ohio, high school football team. But when Alison is found strangled behind her house, even Tony's closest friend, Sam Robb, suspects him. Alison's true killer is never found, and Tony flees his home town to forge a career as a high-powered, high-profile San Francisco criminal attorney and marries a a movie star. Cutting to the present day, Tony is called back to Lake City to defend his old friend. Sixteen-year-old track star Marcie Calder was found dead on the shore of Lake Erie, and Sam, now the overweight assistant principal and track coach of Lake City High, is the accused. A series of scandals slowly erodes Tony's confidence in Sam's innocence as Tony comes to terms with his own troubled past.

As with Patterson's previous work, Silent Witness is a novel with subtle characters who happen to be involved in a compelling (and authentic-seeming) criminal trial. For dedicated Patterson fans, some insight into the life of actress Stacey Tarrant is a special treat. She's Tony's wife in the present world of the novel but was the lover of Senator James Kilcannon before the senator was assassinated. James was the brother of Kerry Kilcannon, the enigmatic presidential candidate at the center of Patterson's 1998 blockbuster, No Safe Place. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Like its predecessors, Patterson's latest novel (after The Final Judgment) evinces endless admiration for the ornateness of the law, and is crowded with complex characters whose troubles will draw readers deeply into their story. This hypnotic tale revolves around a friendship that begins on a high-school football field and is tested half a lifetime later in a Lake City, Ohio, courtroom. Tony Lord, a noted California criminal lawyer, returns to the home of his youth to defend his oldest friend, Sam Robb, against the charge of murdering his 16-year-old mistress. Lord takes the sordid case in part because his own life was nearly shattered when, as a teenager, he was suspected of murdering his own girlfriend. Because he wasn't formally charged, he was never "acquitted" by his neighbors of the brutal killing, which remains unsolved 28 years later. Lord isn't ready for the feelings that assault him in Lake City, or for the resurrection of memories both cherished and hated-like those of his brief affair with the cheerleader who became Sam Robb's wife, or of Sam's past questioning of Lord's innocence. Moving back and forth in time with metronomic patience, Patterson grants these two homicide cases an almost epic grandeur. He examines, in sometimes painful detail, the ways in which the friendships of youth can pass into personal mythology and skew adult judgment. But he is at his dramatic finest when, at last, he gives the emotions of these characters, who are connected by a lifetime of love and resentment, full reign in the courtroom. These are the scenes that his fans will anticipate most eagerly, and they are as explosive and revealing as anyone could wish. 400,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection; simultaneous Random House Audio.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Tony Lord (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312381646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312381646
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the fourth book I've read by Richard North Patterson, following "Degree of Guilt," "Eyes of a Child" and "Final Judgment," all of which were very well written. With "Silent Witness," Patterson easily surpasses even the lofty expectations I developed based on the stories I had read earlier and joins Elizabeth George and Dorothy Sayers as one of my favorite mystery writers. The story is masterfully crafted, weaving two murder mysteries separated by nearly thirty years into a seamless web of intrigue, betrayal and misguided loyalties. It is reminiscent of "Lone Star" in rooting its two mysteries in the small town social fabric with conflicts between Catholics, protestants and Jews; and between blacks and whites. The characters evolve in very credible ways. One can see the teenagers we first meet in the middle-aged characters we later visit, with their basic traits sometimes mellowed, sometimes entrenched; with dreams shattered and realities acknowledged. The book actually begins slowly, unlike other Patterson novels which firmly hook the reader in the first three pages. I found the ending a little less than satisfactory. I correctly guessed the identity of the guilty party and expected another character to do the same. The ending was good, but more satisfying to one of the characters than to the reader. The book is a must read and a real page turner.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Richard North Patterson continues his string of outstanding novels with this penetrating look at friendship, faith and love. Tony Lord, who we first met in "Private Screening" is the legal wizard who is called to his hometown after nearly three decades to defend his best friend of the murder of a sixteen year old girl. Tony himself left his hometown because he had been accused of murdering his girlfriend, Alison Taylor. Tony's guilt was never really clarified, because the only other person who could have murdered Alison was killed robbing a convenience store. We know Tony didn't kill Alison, but the townspeople believe he did.
So now his best friend (who also may have thought Tony was guilty) is facing similar charges, only he gets to go to trial with Tony as his lawyer.
A stunning novel, filled with secrets; heartbreaking scenarios that are so lifelike in their structure, you can't help but feel for those involved. The confrontational courtroom scenes, as always, are brilliant and riveting. The relationship between Tony and Sam is superbly etched; Tony's feelings about Sam's wife, Sue, are painstakingly real; the enigmatic Sam Robb is focal---is he capable of such a brutal murder; does he lie about everything? Is he really Tony's best friend? And is Tony justified in what he does to Ernie?
The novel cruises along with such intensity and fervor, one can't help but gasp in awe at its structure. The finale is devastating, although you can see it coming, you just don't want to admit it.
A brilliant, exceptional novel.
HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Tony Lord is a successful criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, married to an Oscar-winning actress and living the life of the rich and famous. But thirty years ago, as a high school senior in a small Ohio town, he was a suspect in the murder of his girlfriend. He was never formally charged, but many townspeople, including the dead girl's parents, were convinced of his guilt. He soon went away to college and never returned.
But now he has no choice. His old best friend Sam, the teammate who caught Tony's pass in the end zone in the final ten seconds of the biggest game of their high school careers, has been charged with murder. So Tony returns to his old home town to defend his friend.
Inevitably, Tony is forced to confront the prejudices and nightmares he thought he had escaped decades ago. His dead girlfriend's parents are still there, and still convinced of his guilt. Sam's wife Sue is another issue. She was Sam's girlfriend back in high school, but she and Tony slept together one night toward the very end of their senior year, and Sam has always been suspicious of the relationship between Tony and his wife.
By setting up the plot framework as he did, Patterson gave himself the opportunity for a richly textured exploration of some of humanity's most powerful emotions: love, jealousy, loyalty, and guilt. And he delivers the goods. The mystery element in this novel - although superb - is almost lost in the wonderfully evocative description of Tony Lord's struggle with his memories, loyalties, and relationships.
I have never read a Richard North Patterson novel before. But this work is so outstanding that he has immediately jumped to the top rank of my favorite mystery writers - a group that includes Elizabeth George, P D James, and Dennis Lehane.
This one is absolutely terrific.
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I recently discovered Richard North Patterson, and have been devouring his books. Each one has been excellent. Silent Witness is the best I've read. The story line is totally captivating, packed with surprises, and the ending couldn't have been done any better. On top of all this, the characterization was so deep and real that I had a hard time remembering it was fiction. This is truly one of the best books I've ever read. I'd enjoy hearing from other readers who felt the same, and would appreciate some recommendations from them.
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