When Paul Madriani's old friend, flamboyant criminal-defense lawyer Nick Rush, is gunned down on the streets of San Diego along with a client, Madriani sets out to find the killer. He follows the trail through shady real-estate dealings, cross-border smuggling, political corruption, and a nasty fight between Rush's ex and his young trophy wife over a hefty life-insurance policy. Eventually the case leads Madriani to the Yucatan Peninsula near Cancún, where the last third of the book takes place--a dandy locale for skullduggery, even if it does make you suspect that the author thought up the plot while vacationing there.
The Arraignment is marred by some sloppy, foggy-headed writing ("The neighborhood exudes the kind of aura picked up by a sixth sense that lingers and lifts the hair on the back of my neck"), and the plot, after its initial bang, sags for a while before it gets moving again. However, the sheer vigor of Martini's prose, his densely inventive plotting, and his sharply drawn characters carry you happily, tensely along. The book's action scenes--including a hand-to-hand fight in a shabby apartment and an unforgettable poolside shooting at a Cancún resort--are told in fresh, vivid prose that unfolds with hypnotic clarity. And the denouement is great fun, although the complex plot takes a lot of explaining at the end. Martini's not perfect, but he's still one of the best legal/adventure thriller writers going. --Nicholas H. Allison
From Publishers Weekly
Someday, someone may convince Martini or his publishers to come up with book titles that have a little more zip or at least relevance to the plot. Fortunately, the books themselves don't suffer from the same lack of inspiration. Martini's seventh series entry starring San Diego attorney Paul Madriani is one of his finest. It not only showcases Madriani as a man of maturing wisdom, but also as one who hasn't lost too much youthful vigor. Here, his client is the lithesome Dana Rush. She is the trophy wife of Madriani's good friend and fellow lawyer, Nick Rush, who is gunned down outside a downtown courthouse as the novel begins. In taking the case, Madriani feels an obligation to his friend; he wants to make sure Dana gets her just life insurance proceeds. But Madriani is equally as interested in investigating the events surrounding Nick's murder. What he finds-related deaths, drug smuggling, shady land deals and conniving law partners-takes Madriani on an unwholesome tour of Nick's final few months. The case leads Madriani and his law partner Harry Hinds to Mexico, where the action culminates in violence atop a Mayan ruin. Readers may have trouble tying it all together at the end, and they won't be too surprised at the identity of the villain. Yet along the way, Martini shows a deepening talent for character and description, which should put this popular series on continued solid footing for the future. Mystery Guild main selection, Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured alternate.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.