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The Guilty Plea
Detective Ari Greene / Attorney Ted DiPaulo, No 2
Robert Rotenberg

Sarah Crichton Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
July 5, 2011/ ISBN 0374278490
Legal Mystery / Toronto, Canada / Contemporary

Reviewed by L J Roberts

First Sentence: Even for Arceli Ocaya, it was too hot to sleep.

Det. Ari Greene is called to the murder scene of member of Toronto s wealthy Wyler family, known for Wyler Fresh fruits and vegetables. The kitchen is awash in Terrance Wyler s kitchen but, even worse, his 5-year-old son and the object of a bitter custody fight, is asleep in his bedroom upstairs. Defense attorney Ted DiPaulo receives a call from a fellow-attorney who is representing Samatha Wyler, the victim s wife.

Ted is asked to represent Sam from the murder charge certain to come but also is handed a dish towel containing the murdering knife. Who can prove their case; the detective for the prosecution, or the attorney whose client threatened her husband, had the murder weapon, and was in the house but claims her husband was already dead?

Rotenburg captures the readers’ attention with an excellent, evocative opening followed by short but compelling chapters. Plot is definitely the author s strength. For non-Canadian readers, it is a fascinating look at that country s judicial system. It is a story filled with very good plot twists, which keep things interesting, including an excellent twist that, even though you assumed was coming, was still very effectively executed.

Where the story lacked was in the characters. In spite of their being well-constructed backstories, there were so many characters I never felt emotionally invested in any of them and I found it a bit difficult keeping track, with the lawyers and police, of who was on which side of the legal aisle and with the Wyler family, who was being referred to when. The characters never really came to life for me.

The Guilty Plea was an enjoyable legal thriller that had definite strengths, but a rushed ending.

Reviewed 2011
© 2011