“Shadow of Power” by Steve Martini

Genre: Legal Thriller

Rating: 4 Water Towers

Background

Steve Martini is my favorite author next to Perri O’Shaughnessy. And I know for a fact that one of the O’Shaughnessy sisters absolutely agrees with me (because she told me so when we met in 2004). At the end of “Shadow of Power” Steve admits to “difficult times”, and we, his loyal and avid readers know the past few years have seen a decrease in the frequency of books. On the bright side, I see that he is touring and I take that as a sign that Steve is past the “difficult times”…we can hope and pray that is the case.

Here is the scoop: Steve Martini has no equal in the legal thriller genre…he is the best….pure and simple.

In 2002, I was at a conference in San Diego, and being the avid reader of Martini’s novels that I am, I decided to find Paul Madriani’s office and Miguel’s Cocina where he and Harry Hines meet for an occasional beer. I found them! The next two pictures show those locations and at the end of this review is a slide show with a few more pictures. Just a bit of reality in Steve Martini’s fiction world of Paul Madriani….and very cool.

Miguel's Cocina where Madriani and Hines meet

Paul Madriani and Harry Hines Office location

End Background

“Shadow of Power” is the latest book in the Paul Madriani series. In this book, Paul’s young daughter, Sarah, is now in college (Yikes, times flies way to quickly) and he and Harry Hines are defending a man accused of murdering a famous book author.

Terry Scarborough is on a book tour promoting his wildly successful and controversial book “Perpetual Slaves: The Branding of America’s Black Race”. This book points out that the Constitution was written so that slavery was not admonished. The words are still in the Constitution and the idea that this nation, built on the premise of freedom for all, is not all it was meant to be is causing rioting and unrest. Interestingly, Scarborough states that the idea for this book came from a shocking letter written by one of our founding fathers….the “J” Letter. He promises to reveal the contents of the “J” Letter in the next book which is sure to sell millions of copies and cause even more unrest.

Unfortunately, Scarborough meets his gruesome demise in the San Diego hotel room where he is staying.

The police are quick to make an arrest. Carl Arnsberg is a down and out and peripherally involved with a group of racists called the Aryan Posse. He works at the hotel and was delivering food to Scarborough’s room when he found the body. Carl leaves in a panic, but, on his way out he slipped (and fell) in the blood leaving fingerprints on the murder weapon (a straight claw hammer) and in the pool of blood near the weapon. A ton of circumstantial evidence leads to a trial for murder.

Paul happens to be good friends with Carl’s father and agrees to defend Carl.

As “Shadow of Power” starts, Steve Martini struggles a bit. But as soon as Paul and Harry appear and the investigation and trial begins, Martini shines. The complexity of the trial, the quest to uncover all the evidence, and the depictions of the lawyers presenting that evidence along with what they are thinking and planning and scheming…….is masterful.

With humor, tense action, and intricate plotting…. Martini scores another touchdown.

Needless to say, I highly recommend any Steve Martini book (see what I said here about two of them). but, it would be good to start at the beginning of the Madriani series so you can follow his life as it progresses (especially Sarah). I believe “Compelling Evidence” was the debut for Madriani.

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