Prometheus/Seventh Street Books, Aug 4 2015, $15.95
Chicago police arrest Rachel Lazarus for the murder and mutilation of her husband University of Chicago Sociology Professor Gunther Westlake who died in his home by one of his prized chef knives. Confessing to mariticide, Rachel claims Battered Woman Syndrome after insisting she suffered years of spousal abuse.
His antagonistic new boss assigns legally-blind psychologist Dr. Dante Mark Angelotti to assist the recently elected State Attorney for Cook County Linda O’Malley. He will testify as an expert after he finishes the evaluation of the accused started by the late Dr. Bradley Stephens, who died in a hit-and-run. Struggling to understand Stephen’s’ confusing final notes, Mark finds Rachel’s history similar to his own past. In spite of the defense attorney being his former girlfriend and the prosecutor treating him as a hostile expert, Mark’s testimony is the final nail in Rachel’s conviction. Still with Rachel’s daughter missing and learning of an identical murder, Mark wonders if the convicted protects someone else with her confession. Also turning paranoid re his predecessor’s demise and attacks on him; Mark wonders if his boss or O’Malley wants to insure Rachel takes the fall at the cost of Angelotti’s reputation and perhaps much more.
With a nod to Illinois bipartisan patronage politics, the third Dante legal thriller (see Dante’s Wood and Dante’s Poison) is an exhilarating twisting tale especially when the storyline focuses on the law as it pertains to PTSD. Angelotti's non-professional life is a mixed bag as his childhood relationship growing up with a widower father shines a light on his personal and legal feelings re PTSD; while the protagonist’s custody fight detracts from the excellent case.