I saw this book in a charity shop priced at a pound and as I had enjoyed a book by the author Steve Martini before I thought it was a sound investment, after reading it I found it an enjoyable read but this is the sort of book that you would want to buy from a charity shop at a low price as I would have not considered it good value for money at the full retail price.
Martini has a back ground as a lawyer and so it is legal matters and crime that he tends to write about and this thriller is a fairly well crafted murder mystery however it does suffer from a couple of weak plot lines in it that mean you have to stretch your imagination to believe that the events told could actually happen.
The main character is a former defense lawyer who has found himself in the prosecutors office, Paul Madriani is not a popular man with the local judges due to his past role and so when a high profile but contentious serial killer murder trial falls into his lap following a particularly gruesome murder he finds himself in between a rock and a hard place. This is made worse by the fact that he believes the most recent killing to have been committed by a different killer to the man standing on trial for all the murders.
What I liked about this book is the way that the tempo of the story line slowly rises fom a fairly sedate start to create a feeling of ever rising tension, this is a ggood mystery the ending of which I did not really see coming which is something I like as too many book are predictable in the plot twists that they have.
Martini has a nice easy writing style and towards the end I found this a difficult book to put down. Certainly one I would recommend but not at the full rrp.
Steve Martini is one of those authors who I have read, found his books reasonably enjoyable, but have then never really go hooked with a desire to read more of his work. It is not that his books are bad just that for me they rarely rise to the level which makes me want to read them again or to go out and buy more of his work.
His books are crime thrillers usually with a legal angle to them and Prime Witness is no different in that respect. This book was essentially a book of two halves, I struggled in the early stages, I did not really warm to the main character in the book and I found the pace of the book a little slow, however in the second half of the book I got totally immersed in the story and found the book very hard to put down, in fact I spent most of a day curled up on the sun lounge reading it to completion. Given the summer we have had you can probably narrow the day down to about four potential dates based on that information.
The central character in this book is Paul Madriani, a top defence lawyer based in Capitol City who finds himself back on the other side of the tracks when he is persuaded to stand in for the sick county prosecutor, a close friend of his, for a few weeks. Unfortunately his friend does not recover and Madriani is forced to stay in the post by two of the judges he has made enemies of in the past. Madriani has to stay on as he is wrapped up in a serial killer murder case which has hit a small college town called Davenport. The victims are all young students' couples whose bodies have been displayed in a ritualistic way however the latest victims are an older couple linked to the university and it is believed by Madriani that there may be a copy cat killer out there.
There were a number of things that I liked about this book. It is a sort of who "dunnit" as although there is a quick arrest there is lots of uncertainty surrounding the case. What I was most impressed with is that I just did not see the final plot twist coming which is something I can rarely say about this type of crime thriller book. In the latter half of the book the tempo really began to increase as did the levels of suspense so that by the end I was unable to put the book down. I like the fact that this really is a slow burner of a plot, the early parts of the book focus on the investigation and the evidence gathering all against a back drop of a very isolated main character. Madriani has enemies in his own office with those who resent his appointment, political enemies on the bench and in the Mayor office, a rival defence lawyer who he once sent to jail and a wife who is about ready to leave him.
The author himself is a former trail lawyer and thus he makes use of his legal knowledge to give the book a sense of realism and authority to his writing. I found the legal passages in the book interesting especially the way that the evidence was put together and how both sides of the legal divide seek to influence the way this material is presented.
I did have a couple of niggles with the book. Initially I found the main character Madriani difficult to warm to, as a reader I struggled; despite the obvious bad hand he was being dealt, to feel any real empathy with him. He is certainly no super hero showing a number of character flaws that are alluded to as the cause of his marital problems and the reasons behind why he is unpopular with some of the judges he encounters. The other slight niggle I had was that at times the plot does rather stretch the readers sense of reality and perspective, there are a couple of passages that do not ring true and could have been better constructed to make the story believable, I must say these are minor gripes and did not really affect my enjoyment of the book.
There is very limited character development outside of the main character, I would have liked to have seen a little more focus placed upon the main suspct for the murders, a Russian immigrant called Iganovich as his role in the story is fairly central as he faces trila accused of the murders.
This book is a well paced thriller that does have a couple of gruesome passages when the victims are described but nothing too bad. The story is very engaging and this is certainly one of the better if not the best book I have read from the author. The plot twists are well delivered and expertly camouflaged (at least they were from me) and the tempo is slowly increased throughout the book.
Published by Headline my paperback copy runs to 500 pages. I got my copy in a swap on readitswapit and the rrp is £6.99 however new copies on Amazon are £5.99 and from a penny in the new and used section. The ISBN is 0-7472-4164-3.
Thanks for reading and rating my review.