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True Justice Hardcover – August 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; First Edition edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743405897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743405898
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

District Attorney Butch Karp and his pistol-packing wife Marlene Ciampi, the liveliest crime-fighting couple in New York, are back in True Justice. The first set of infanticides happen on Butch's watch: a wave of gruesome incidents in which newborns are killed or abandoned by their indigent teenage mothers. The second, Marlene's case, is straight out of the headlines: a middle-class college girl and her boyfriend are indicted for first-degree murder in the death of their baby after a concealed pregnancy.

The most interesting story belongs to Lucy, Butch and Marlene's teenage daughter, an incisively brilliant and complex young woman who deserves her own novel. Lucy's best friend's parents seem to have been murdered by an African furniture restorer of whose guilt Lucy is unconvinced. The real solution to the mystery of who killed the Maxwells is telegraphed well in advance, but all the crimes give Butch, Marlene, their colleagues in criminal justice, and even Lucy a chance to weigh in on the law's fault lines and the ironies implicit in what passes for justice in America. But it's Lucy's spiritual quest that provokes the book's most unusual and involving drama. Lucy's devout Catholic faith, like her prodigious talent for language (she can speak 14, but give her five days in a foreign country and that'll be 15, thank you), is a mystery to Butch, a lapsed Jew, and Marlene, who has trouble squaring her own faith with the violence that attends her job. When a Jesuit priest tries to explain it in the following passage, Butch is nonplused:

"Lucy takes her spiritual responsibilities very seriously. And of course, in the current age, when people think there's no such thing as spiritual responsibility, she has nothing to compare herself to, and so she may get herself painted into a corner."

"I'm not sure I follow," said Karp.

"Oh, I mean, two or three hundred years ago, a girl with her talents and predilections would have been in an order, with hourly guidance and a rule to follow. Think of Mickey Mantle being born in, say, Romania in 1830. The talent's there, but there's no cultural space for it."

This is a keenly intelligent book, many cuts above the usual courtroom procedural. The most interesting things happen outside the courtroom--the moral dilemmas, the political choices, the bonds between parents and daughter. The pacing is as swift as the dialogue, the characters are piercingly illuminated, and the philosophical jousting is worth a room full of Jesuits. This reader is heading straight for Tanenbaum's backlist and eagerly anticipating another novel with Lucy as the star. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

A rash of baby killings positions a pair of married lawyers on opposite sides of the moral and legal fence in the latest multifaceted installment of this legal-thriller series (after Act of Revenge). Tanenbaum brings back assistant district attorney Butch Karp and feisty spouse Marlene Ciampi when three infanticides involving young unwed mothers are discovered in New York City. City politics and legal circumstances force Karp to prosecute a young Hispanic girl who appears to be the most culpable of the three. While Karp is embroiled in his case, lawyer Ciampi is busy with her own challengeAprotecting battered women from violent ex-husbands. When she is forced to shoot a man after he guns down his wife and then aims the weapon at his own daughter, Ciampi realizes she has had enough and decides to retire. Shortly afterward, however, a lawyer friend convinces her to represent a young woman in Delaware who is accused of killing her newborn baby. Contrived though the plot may be, it provides an apt vehicle for Tanenbaum to dissect the legal and moral mechanisms of the two cases, while exploring their effects on his protagonists' professional and personal lives. An intriguing subplot involves the couple's deeply religious daughter, Lucy, a linguistic prodigy. When the parents of her wealthy friend Caitlin are killed in cold blood, Lucy's instincts help identify the murderer. The resolution of Ciampi's case seems a bit na?ve and optimistic, but Tanenbaum rises above the inherent manipulation in the story lines with his usual combination of intelligent, wry dialogue, a well-designed maze of political and moral traps, and the charming and incendiary chemistry between Karp and Ciampi. For those who prefer their legal thrillers with plenty of spice and a high IQ, Tanenbaum remains an essential addiction. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Robert K. Tanenbaum is one of the country's most successful trial lawyers -- he has never lost a felony case. He has been homicide bureau chief for the New York District Attorney's Office and deputy chief counsel to the congressional committee investigations into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Most recently, he has taught Advanced Criminal Procedure atthe University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. His previous works include the novels Escape, Malice, Fury, Hoax, Resolved, Enemy Within, and Absolute Rage and two true-crime books, The Piano Teacher: The True Story of a Psychotic Killer and Badge of the Assassin.

Customer Reviews

Very well done and thought provoking.
Claudette Cleveland
One of the great things about reading a Robert Tannenbaum book is the dialog - it's always believable in context and for the character.
Toby Heaton
This is one of the better books I've read recently.
C. Butler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tina on August 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Once again Tanenbaum brings back his characters shaping this book into a legal thriller.
While I always enjoy this author's work, I can never quite get over the feeling that I am reading short stories instead of one novel. It always seems that Marlene, Butch and Lucy are all living out their lives separately and that although the stories do cross over, are never really intertwined properly.
This last novel is no exception to this. While I admire Tanenbaum's attitude of "strong women - no victims" approach in all his books, I never get the feeling that the characters complete themselves.
Nonetheless, a good read and of course, as always, the somewhat "dry humor" is always great.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The three infant deaths in Manhattan in a week all share in common that an outsider found the abandoned corpse of an unwed mother. By the third death, the media leads a public frenzy seeking to lynch someone for the rash of infanticides. The police catch all three "monster moms". They turn out to be a fourteen year old African-American who thought she had a stomach ache, a sixteen year old Puerto Rican who claimed the child was caused by rape, and a white adult who seemed retarded. The obvious target of the New York County DA is sixteen year old Lourdes Bustamente, who appears to be the only one with premeditated causes. The case is assigned to Butch Karp to prosecute.
Meanwhile Butch's wife attorney Marlene Ciampi is thinking of retiring from her work of legally protecting battered women after a recent incident turned ugly. However, a case in Delaware to defend a woman accused of murdering her infant lures Marlene back into the courtroom.
TRUE JUSTICE is an intriguing look at similar cases from the perspectives of the DA's office and the defense attorney. The plot also provides readers with an insightful look at how a tense case can impact the personal lives of the players. The story line at first appears to simply manipulate the tale to allow Ciampi's subplot to occur rather than flow from events. Still, Robert K. Tanenbaum makes it work through his intelligent gaze at the junction of the legal, moral, and political systems abetted by the strong relationship between the lead couple. Legal thriller fans will thrill to the latest Ciampi-Karp tale.

Harriet Klausner
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roger Paulding on March 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
No one can match Tannenbaum for his marvelous stories about the crime fighting family of Butch Karp and Marleen, to which you can now add daughter Lucy. The suspense in these stories consists of whether or not Marleen will have to take the bad guys in hand and dispose of them. She's shot a few and creamed a few others. Her thought processes are marvelous, as are Lucy's, her mother's daughter but with a different slant. Whether in the courtroom or out, Butch and Marleen will keep you thrilled with inside knowledge of how the justice system works. Tannenbaum is about the only writer that has been able to turn out 11 or 12 books without running out of steam. His latest is just as good as his first, and there aren't many you can say that about.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By GranAnn on August 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I haven't missed a Tanenbaum book yet and cannot wait for the next one. Marlene, Butch, Lucy, Zik and Zak, Harry-- all of em are my favorite characters. oops--missed Sweety and Tran.I've enjoyed following them from the beginning, and especially like the development of Lucy, as the adventures continue. Wonder when the twins will start solving crimes? It is after I finish a new book that I go back to previous Karp adventures and re-read. My husband thinks re-reading is silly , so please Mr. Tanenbaum, start on a new one soon! An insatiable reader in NWFla
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ralph M. Hitchens on September 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The latest installment of Tanenbaum's Karp-Ciampi series is up to the high standards set by its predecessors. Whatever you're seeking at the higher levels of escape fiction - legal thriller, police procedural, extended family saga, commentary on contemporary culture, manners, and morals - it's all to be found here. Tanenbaum is one of those happy few who rise above the ranks of genre writers by virtue of a keen sense of observation, a multidimensional worldview, and a fluid prose style - think of Patrick O'Brian or Ursula K. Le Guin. Read this, then go back and read them all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It isn't easy to write a series that remains entertaining even after the protagonists get married and have children. Where do you go when the couple settles down and has children? Robert Tanenbaum continues to deliver laughs and excitement even though Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi are an "old married couple" with a sixteen-year-old daughter and seven-year-old twin boys. As usual, Tanenbaum's dialogue is crisp and street-smart, with lots of amusing repartee. In this novel, Tanenbaum explores the moral dilemma of prosecuting women who are guilty of infanticide. Should the state prosecute these women to the full extent of the law? Karp and company struggle with moral and legal dilemmas, and they must find a way to win cases and live with themselves at the same time. Marlene is back in the courtroom and Lucy is learning how to deal with the agony of being spiritual in an imperfect world. Unfortunately, some of the plotting is contrived and unbelievable, especially at the end. In spite of this flaw, Tanenbaum's knowledge of the law and his talent for creating memorable characters make "True Justice" an engrossing and entertaining novel.
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