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Best Defense [Mass Market Paperback]

Kate Wilhelm
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 1 1995
"ENGROSSING...Wilhelm provides suspense and excitement
while adeptly portraying Barbara [Holloway] as a wily and sympathetic heroine."
--Publishers Weekly
The neighborhood in Eugene, Oregon, is blue-collar; the cafe holds only three tables and four booths. But it's the only place attorney Barbara Holloway feels both productive and peaceful. Laptop computer on the table, coffee refilled regularly by the cook, Barbara gets her work done and wants for nothing more...certainly not another explosive, emotionally devastating courtroom case.
Until a woman comes to Barbara with a case she cannot refuse. The sister of "Baby Killer" Kennerman, the tale she tells is so terrifying that Barbara must act. What she unearths is a corrupt conspiracy that will allow a killer to walk away free. And when she finds herself up against a smear campaign of unimaginable proportions, Barbara Holloway realizes that even the best defense may not be enough....
"Better than any [courtroom dramas] I've read in years...Wilhelm has created an appealing and believable character in Barbara Holloway....The courtroom scenes are excellent, and narrative tension is maintained throughout the story."
--Mystery News

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With this engrossing sequel to Death Qualified , prolific Wilhelm claims a leading place in the ranks of trial suspense writers. At a restaurant in Eugene, Ore., attorney Barbara Holloway regularly holds office hours for those who can't afford downtown representation. Lucille Reiner meets her there to complain about the court-appointed attorney defending her sister, Paula Kennerman. Dubbed the "Baby Killer" by the press, Paula is accused of murdering her young daughter before setting afire the home for abused women to which she and the child had recently fled. Lucille says her sister is innocent but has become withdrawn and uncommunicative and is giving in to the public defender's pressure to plead guilty. Barbara, still emotionally shaken by her fiance's recent death, meets Paula and breaks through her defenses, but then the public defender has his client severely sedated and bars Barbara from seeing her. Despite her reluctance to take on another high-profile case, Barbara becomes drawn into Paula's story and intrigued by suspected legal wrongdoings. Wilhelm provides suspense and excitement while adeptly portraying Barbara as a wily and sympathetic heroine. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-The murder trial of "Baby Killer" Paula Kennerman seems like an open-and-shut case. After taking refuge at a safe house for battered women, the defendent alledgedly set it afire, fatally burning her child. The plot twists with steadily mounting danger and tension as defense attorney Barbara Holloway sets out to prove her client's innocence. The characterizations and courtroom atmosphere are especially well done. Relevant social issues involving battered wives, the power of the media to influence opinion, and illegal business dealings that operate under a cover of sanctimony are smoothly woven into the story. This cleverly crafted page-turner proves that indeed the best defense is a good offense.
Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Legal thriller Aug. 19 2000
By Helen
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a book from an obviously highly skilled author. The plotting was compelling, clever and tense and the main protagonists well drawn. The bad guys are clearly delineated if somewhat two dimensional. One slight flaw was the at times confusing detail of the plot. I am looking forward to other legal thrillers written by this author.
Was this review helpful to you?
2.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced drama, except for near trial end Jan. 29 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The book begins well, rich (or at least well off, but playing at being poor) female lawyer is asked to do the impossible, free a woman pre-judged to be a baby killer. Barbara (the lawyer) does a credible job and succeeds. The book bogs down near the end with a lot of shooting off in all directions apparently trying to explain herself. 'Bad guys' are unbelievably bad: making money on abortion formula while mouthing abortion foe rhetoric. A little too overdramatic...a C-minus for such a lack of sublety. The righteous are 'good-good', the other side is 'bad bad'. Author is no John Grisham.
Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm a tough grader - reserve 9 and 10 for all-time greats. This is simply a good read. Very plot driven, with commentary on a number of contemporary issues and personal relationships. It also is about power and greed, and the corrupting influence of money. It touches on the fanatical nature of people's response to abortion, and gives the reader an emotional ride over some very difficult issues. The main characters are complex people, while the supporting characters are a little unidimensional. However, through it all you are engaged in unravelling the crime and discovering whether the truth will prevail or whether money will buy the verdict
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding courtroom drama March 25 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Kate Wilhelm knows her courtroom procedure, and at the same time, she understands the human emotions that underly those procedures. Her characters are strong and believable and her story is gripping. Wonderful read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivetting Feb. 8 2009
By Linda Pagliuco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A few months back, I read and enjoyed Death Qualified, the first of the Barbara Holloway series. With The Best Defense, I listened to the audio version, skillfully narrated by Anna Fields, one of the best readers out there. The difference between the 2 experiences is striking, particularly with respect to the courtroom scenes, which occupy a good percentage of these books. Barbara reluctantly takes on the case of a woman accused of killing her little daughter and burning down the safe house where they've taken refuge from her abusive husband. Public opinion, fanned by some sensational journalism, is that she is undeniably guilty. The buildup to the trial makes for interesting reading, but the story bursts into life during the trial. Fields conjures Barbara out of the pages as a brilliant, impassioned defense attorney, willing to endure significant personal risk, and psychological pain, in her determination to see that the truth prevails. The courtroom scenes are rivetting. Barbara abhors the fact that cross examination frequently forces a lawyer to become a "shark", cutting the witness to pieces. Her struggle with her two conflicting impulses, to achieve justice and to preserve her own humanity, forms the central theme of this novel. As in real life, there are no real solutions, and Barbara must find a way to come to terms with these facets of her personality.

5 stars, one of the best in the genre.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The trouble with sequels Nov. 9 2005
By Anna M. Ligtenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
ISBN 0449223140 - Give or take 500 words, I might have given this book 5 stars - the problem is, there's reference to a relationship from the first book, and no explanation. If the author really felt the need to drag "Mike" into The Best Defense, she ought to have included some more details. If the Amazon Product Description hadn't mentioned that he died, I'd have assumed a bad break up.

That aside, the book is quite good. Barbara Holloway, trying to come to terms with what she does for a living, and how she does it, sets up shop in a small neighborhood restaurant, offering legal advice to people who couldn't otherwise afford it. Enter Lucille Reiner, sister of Paula "Baby Killer" Kennerman. Barbara takes the case, finding her client entangled in a conspiracy that goes far beyond the death of one child and the railroading of Paula. The complexity is a bit much at times, particularly during the trial, but it's worth the minor effort to keep the threads straight.

It seems obvious that Wilhelm's intention is to carry Barbara's relationship with her father, the neighborhood people and Bill into the next novel. That's fine - I just hope she does the extra work to explain things so that each book can stand alone. Getting people to read the earlier books might be her goal, but it will become annoying to the reader who came late to the series.

- AnnaLovesBooks
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding courtroom drama March 25 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Kate Wilhelm knows her courtroom procedure, and at the same time, she understands the human emotions that underly those procedures. Her characters are strong and believable and her story is gripping. Wonderful read
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Legal thriller Aug. 18 2000
By Helen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a book from an obviously highly skilled author. The plotting was compelling, clever and tense and the main protagonists well drawn. The bad guys are clearly delineated if somewhat two dimensional. One slight flaw was the at times confusing detail of the plot. I am looking forward to other legal thrillers written by this author.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging plot covering abortion, drugs, money, & murder Aug. 18 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm a tough grader - reserve 9 and 10 for all-time greats. This is simply a good read. Very plot driven, with commentary on a number of contemporary issues and personal relationships. It also is about power and greed, and the corrupting influence of money. It touches on the fanatical nature of people's response to abortion, and gives the reader an emotional ride over some very difficult issues. The main characters are complex people, while the supporting characters are a little unidimensional. However, through it all you are engaged in unravelling the crime and discovering whether the truth will prevail or whether money will buy the verdict
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