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Witness For The Defense (Kali O'Brien Mysteries) Hardcover – March 1, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
Book 4 of 7 in the Kali O'Brien Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jacobs's latest legal thriller (Motion to Dismiss, etc.) will catch the attention of anyone captivated by current scandals involving botched adoptions and bitter custody battles. Following the collapse of her brief love affair with a married man, crackerjack attorney Kali O'Brien returns to San Francisco to single life and a languishing law practice. When psychologist Steven Cross, a grief-stricken widower from Kali's past, refers Terri and Ted Harper to her for what seems like a simple adoption case, Kali accepts. But she is wary because Ted and Terri's previous adoption attempt ended with the birth mother reclaiming her infant. This time Ted, a former quarterback, and his beautiful wife take the extra precaution of moving the pregnant girl, Melissa Burke, into their home until the birth of the baby. Melissa and the birth father both sign the requisite papers, to the Harpers' relief. But their joy is short-lived: when the baby arrives, brash, reactionary radio talk-show host Bram Weaver announces he is the father and sues for custody. Kali prepares to fight an uphill legal battle until Bram is murdered and police arrest Terri based on evidence found at the crime scene. As Kali gathers information about Bram, uncovering his many enemies, her relationship with Cross becomes more personal. And when an eyewitness with a shady past surfaces, she must convince him to testify. Though the deus ex machina ending disappoints, swift pacing, multiple motives and twisting plot lines will satisfy and keep readers guessing. (Apr.)Forecast: The Kali O'Brien series is gaining in popularity Motion to Dismiss was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and while sales won't rival those of Lisa Scottoline, Jacobs has picked a hot topic that should pique the interest of readers outside the usual legal-thriller crowd.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

When Oakland attorney Kali O'Brien decides to finish adoption paperwork for Terri Harper, the case seems straightforward. But Harper's brother is Kali's old lover, and Bram Weaver, a right-wing talk show host, contests the adoption, claiming to be the biological father of the child Harper wishes to adopt. Then Weaver is murdered, shifting Harper from prospective parent to prime suspect. This fourth Kali O'Brien thriller combines solid Bay Area atmosphere with a complex and fascinating legal case. Jacobs capably shows the hard work and uncertainty facing both the prosecution and the defense. Kali's poor judgment in the area of romance strains credulity, but otherwise she is an appealing protagonist. Jacobs has a knack for pacing and making the law suspenseful and compelling, though her ending seems a bit contrived. A respectable entry in a solid series that seems just on the verge of jumping to the next level. John Rowen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Kali O'Brien Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 064167595X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0641675959
  • ASIN: 157566643X
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,434,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonnie Jacobs is the author of fifteen novels and several short stories.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, she is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and has served on the Edgar awards committee. She is a frequent lecturer on both the craft of writing and the world of mystery fiction.

A former practicing attorney, she lives near San Francisco with her husband and now writes full time.

KATE AUSTEN SERIES (in order)
Murder Among Neighbors
Murder Among Friends
Murder Among Us
Murder Among Strangers

KALI O'BRIEN SERIES (in order)
Shadow of Doubt
Evidence of Guilt
Motion to Dismiss
Witness for the Defense
Cold Justice
Intent to Harm
The Next Victim

NON-SERIES BOOKS
The Only Suspect
Paradise Falls
Lying With Strangers
Payback

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a great book that kept me reading late into the night. Just when I thought the story had settled in to a certain direction, it took a twist that raised new questions and sent it off on a different path. The courtroom scenes were interesting and believable, the characters well-developed, and the writing smooth. I've enjoyed all this author's books, but Witness for the Defense is one of her best. A wealthy and well-known San Francisco couple, a hate-mongering radio host, a pregnant teenage girl with secrets of her own, a missing murder witness, and a sleuth whose involvement in the case isn't as straightforward as it first appears all add up to a winning combination.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed my first outing with Jonnie Jacobs' legal heroine Kali O'Brien. Returning to San Francisco after her married lover returned to his wife, Kali is just putting her life back together when another former boyfriend, Steven Cross, refers his sister Terri Harper to Kali to handle a pending adoption. Harper lost a child earlier when a parent changed her mind before the adoption was final so she sought legal advice. Things go haywire when a controversial radio talk show host, Bram Weaver, claims the child is his and announces his intention to gain custody. When Weaver is brutually murdered, Terri is picked up as the most likely subject.
Throughout the development and conduct of Terri's defense, Kali seeks to find other explanations of the circumstantial evidence against her client but desperately tries to find out alternative suspects. There are several interesting side plots, including resumption of a love interest between Kali and Steven Cross and the uncovering of the hit and run killer of Cross's wife and daughter.
I thought I discovered the real murderer through several obsure clues and was pretty sure I was right until the very end. The ending was a bit disappointing as the conclusion of several plot lines unraveled all at once in an unbelievable way.
Still the story was intriguing, the characters--including Kali's senior citizen roommates--likable and interesting and I had a great weekend read.
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Format: Hardcover
It was supposed to be a simple adoption. Attorney, Kali O'Brien had seen to it that everything was in place and would go smoothly. The birth mother, Melissa, a young college student who wanted her old life back, had signed all the necessary papers terminating her rights, as had the father and Terri and Ted Harper had brought their beautiful new daughter home. Within days, what all thought was a final adoption began to fall apart. Obnoxious, controversial radio talk show host, Bram Weaver, claims he's the baby's father and he wants his daughter. When Melissa doesn't dispute his claim, the Harpers are devastated and Kali gets to work preparing for an uphill custody battle that in her heart she knows her clients don't have a chance of winning. But when Weaver is found shot to death and evidence begins piling up against Terri, Kali begins a new fight to not only save her client, but to put this family back together..... Jonnie Jacobs has written a fast paced, page turner that's about to keep you up, reading all night. "Ripped from the headlines", her plot is compelling, with scenes full of suspenseful and riveting detail. Her characters are interesting and real and her writing, very crisp and smart, with good down to earth dialogue. As a practicing attorney, Ms Jacobs' expertise in the law and courtroom procedure, adds real credibility to the story. Witness for the Defense is a great read and a book that should be on all mystery/legal thriller lovers summer reading lists.
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By A Customer on February 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In the Bay area, former professional football star, Ted Harper and his wife Terri hire attorney Kali O'Brien to expedite an adoption. The teenage single woman Melissa Burke is living with the Harpers until she gives birth. Not her usual case, Kali could use the easy fee and begins to insure all the papers are properly signed including obtaining the signature of the father, Gary Ellis. Melissa gives birth to a healthy girl named Hannah. Case closed.
Case reopened when obnoxious anti feminine radio talk show host Bram Weaver claims to be Hannah's father. He demands the Harpers hand over his child. Kali begins preparation for what seems like a sure shot losing custody battle. However, that preparation changes when the same night that Bram spent a court ordered hour with Hannah, someone kills him. The obvious motive lies with Terri, who already attacked Bram in court, leaving Kali to defend her from a charge of murder one.
WITNESS FOR THE DEFENSE is an exciting legal thriller that twists and turns from a simple adoption to a relatively simple custody case to a complex homicide. Kali in her fourth appearance remains a refreshing attorney. The key secondary players (Harpers, Melissa, and Bram) provide the depth to the story line that turns this into an exhilarating tale. With this legal suspense series and her Kate Austen murder mysteries, Jonnie Jacobs continues to provide some of the best genre entertainment.

Harriet Klausner
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By A Customer on April 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This whole series is great, and Witness for the Defense is the best yet. Kali is a likeable, very human, character. She agrees to represent a couple who are set to adopt a baby being born to a young woman who is living with them. Then a chauvinistic radio talk show host claims to be the baby's father and won't agree to the adoption. When he's murdered, the police arrest Kali's client. The last part of the book covers the trial, and as usual, Jacobs keeps the courtroom stuff so interesting you're on the edge of your seat. There is a also a thread involving an ex lover of Kali's, who is her client's brother, and a thread involving a possible witness to the murder - a man who is reluctant to come forward. Highly readable, fast-paced novel with the right mix of suspense and careful characterization.
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