A legal battle equal to Presumed Innocent. A nightmare of terror and psychopathology worthy of The Silence of the Lambs.
William Diehl is the author of the international bestsellers Sharky's Machine, Thai Horse, 27, Reign in Hell and Show of Evil. Several of his novels have been filmed. He lives in Woodstock, Georgia, with his wife, Emmy Award winner Virginia Gunn.
Ringing dazzling changes on the suspense format he worked so successfully in Sharkey's Machine and four other thrillers, Diehl here focuses on the maneuvers of Chicago defense attorney Martin Vail, a prosecutor's worst nightmare. Vail has vexed the political machine by winning a multimillion-dollar brutality judgment against the city, county and state police, but the powers that be think they see a way to pay him back. After discovering the mutilated body of Archbishop Richard Rushman in the rectory of his church, police find Aaron Stampler cowering in a confessional, blood-soaked and gripping the murder weapon. It seems like an ironclad case--psycho slasher carves up ``the Saint of Lakeview Drive''--and a hostile judge appoints Vail as pro bono defense attorney, hoping to publicly humble him. Vail is impressed by Stampler, a runaway from the bishop's haven, Savior House, and builds a maverick defense team to butt heads with vengeful prosecutor Jane Venable. PI Tommy Goodman digs up some nasty news about the bishop (not what the reader expects) and uncovers a childhood of abuse and mysterious deaths in Stampler's Kentucky hometown. Psychiatrist Molly Arrington blows the case wide open by unearthing a terrifying secret that Vail springs in court. Diehl builds delicious tension, keeping the reader off balance right up to the gavel-pounding finale. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; movie rights to Paramount; Literary Guild special featured selection. ( Jan. )