Reviewed: May 21, 2004
By: John Lescroart
Publisher: Signet Books
528 pages, $10.99
This is the fourth novel in the Dismas Hardy series that I have enjoyed,
but only the first that I have read. I've experienced the others through the
excellent medium of the audiobook and have found that I really enjoy those versions.
I came upon this one while in need of something to travel with and, to my delight,
it was equally as enjoyable.
Dismas, who is named for the good thief in the Easter story, is a lawyer
in San Francisco. He is a recovering alcoholic who has a family and a few ghosts
in his past. In previous stories we have looked at some of his personal problems
and the ways in which jobs can get in the way of living. While Hardy is the
central character in these stories, there is nevertheless a bit of an ensemble
cast, and one of the big roles in the series is that of Abe Glitsky, homicide
lieutenant with the San Francisco police. While his is usually more of a supporting
role, in The Hearing he spends a fair amount of the book on centre stage, because
this case involves Abe in a seriously personal way.
Abe's a widower with a few grown up kids, a man who hasn't had a woman in
his life for a long time. But there was a time, years ago, when that wasn't
true. Long before he was married, Abe had a fling and, much to his surprise,
he eventually discovered that he had a daughter. Elaine Wagner was the daughter
of a woman who had risen to the rank of state senator and, after a stint in
law enforcement, Elaine seemed headed in the same direction. Now she was dead,
apparently the victim of a senseless mugging that went sour.
Abe doesn't handle the case well. Too emotionally involved at the beginning,
he goes for the easy suspect, the quick solution, anything to ease the guilt
he feels over never having let Elaine know who he was.
The problem is that the junkie who apparently did the deed ends up being
Dismas' client. hardy would probably never have taken the case had he known
of the connection. He didn't want it anyway; took it as a favour to a friend
and regretted it from the beginning. Cole Burgess was a piece of work, and his
sister deserved better. Still, it seemed that for all his flaws, Cole might
actually be innocent. It takes a lot to drive a wedge between Hardy and Glitsky,
but that almost happens here. Abe gets himself into a serious mess, is placed
on suspension and has a heart attack before he begins to reevaluate his original
conclusions and the two begin to work together again.
This case is complicated by the fact that the DA has decided to make it the
centrepiece of her bid for reelection. Hardy decides to take the Perry Mason
route and use the pretrial hearing as a venue to disprove the state's case.
That, along with another little side story I won't mention here, means that
the road to be travelled to a solution is neither straight nor smooth. But that,
of course, just makes it all the more interesting.