Criminal Intent Mass Market Paperback – Jul 1 2003
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From Library Journal
In the latest Ben Kincaid mystery, one parish priest may be going to heaven soon; he's facing the death penalty for murder.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Here's a series that found an audience early and has just kept rolling along, repeating its successful formula again and again. The eleventh Ben Kincaid novel (the first, Primary Justice, appeared in 1991) is pretty much like its predecessors: a solid, by-the-numbers legal drama, suspenseful enough but saddled with frequently awkward dialogue and off-the-rack characters. There's nothing particularly wrong with the Kincaid mysteries, but there's nothing particular right about them, either. They deliver the basic legal-thriller package, but without any of the style or intensity that readers have come to expect from, say, Philip Margolin or John Lescroart. This time around, Ben is defending an Episcopalian priest on a charge of homicide; the prosecution's theory is that this man of the cloth murdered an associate because she was among a group of parishioners who wanted him replaced because he permitted gay and lesbian groups to hold meetings at the church. There are witnesses, suspects, false leads, and various legal-thriller shenanigans, but it all has the feel of been-there-done-that. Still, Bernhardt clearly has found his readers, and they are a loyal bunch. Readers'-advisory librarians might like to try an experiment: for those who request this distinctly middling Ben Kincaid novel, recommend in addition Jane Haddam's thematically similar but far superior 2001 thriller, True Believers, which concerns a Catholic priest accused of murder and a parish that ministers to the gay community. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
William Bernhardt created several likable and interesting series characters in addition to Ben Kincaid, and as the series has progressed, some have ben dropped and some have been added. In "Criminal Intent," Paula, one of the more recently added characters, marries Jones, but, as you might expect, their wedding is marred by murder. One of the mysteries is the lack of any fingerprints on the presumed murder weapon other than those of Father Beale, who is charged with the murder. Ben is unshakably (and correctly) certain that Father Beale did not murder anyone, but the D.A. is absolutely determined to convict him.
Ben comes up with an ingenious explanation for the lack of fingerprints, but misses an obvious possibility that I was expecting, because Bernhardt himself didn't think of it until I mentioned it in an e-mail to him. (I found the address of Bernhardt's web site on page 390 of the paperback edition.)
The observations Father Beale tells Ben about on pp. 384-5 may (one hopes) lead to developments in the next novel, "Death Row," that we fans of Ben and Christina have been hoping for for some time.
A very welcome development in the most recent Ben Kincaid novels, especially including this one, is an involvement with social issues. Bernhardt doesn't preach; he just presents a situation involving controversial ethical choices, and lets that situation speak for itself.Read more ›
Many people might think the little extracurricular activities that Father Holbrook engages in and also gets his congregation to engage in is not likely to happen. Unfortunately, during the 70's it happened probably all too often. Our church did not have a building of it's own so we borrowed other churches buildings (when they would let us). One time, my mom went into the current building we were using and came out all flustered because we were going to have a children's meeting, and said we couldn't do it. I won't name the denomination, but let's just say the took the idea of 'sensitivity sessions' too far, and my modest mother who was the head of the children's organization had to wait outside and tell everyone to head home. Needless to say, we changed buildings after that!
So Bernhardt's idea isn't crazy, but it didn't make for enjoyable reading all the same. I was thrown off by who I thought was the villain of all the murders...I figured a certain somebody wanted his money sooner than later, and so had 'made arrangements.'
Bernhardt's information about how many times people are found guilty of a crime, and then when new information comes out, it doesn't necessarily exonerate them or let them out of prison because of the way the justice system worked took me by surprise. I knew that DNA was helping to free some wrongly accused.Read more ›
If anyone needs a vacation and a little down time, it's Mr. Bernhardt. He's a fine writer, and I imagine a nice chap. His earlier books were somewhat captivating. However, his last two attempts have been subpar even for a struggling hack.
I will not go into detail concerning the story line, which I found to be uninteresting, but will say that the dialogue is sophomore-ish at best. Ben has become a Boy Scout. And maybe that's all right. Maybe we need more of that in our society. The problem as I see it is that we have R-rated audiences reading G-rated mysteries. Fitting for prep school perusal, but not very exciting for folks who have read books written for the more adult population. This book belongs in the juvenile section of the local library right next to Bambi and the Black Stallion. Realistically, I just couldn't quite swallow this latest serving. Sorry.
CRIMINAL INTENT is Bernhardt's latest work; Bernhardt takes a big chance here, combining the best elements of two tested subcategories of the mystery genre --- the legal thriller and the drawing room mystery. Whatever strengths and weaknesses Bernhardt's work might have, it is simply amazing how he can so seamlessly combine these elements and craft a work which keeps the reader guessing up to the last few pages while at the same time propelling the reader smartly along. On top of that, he presents an extremely unlikely suspect: Father Daniel Beale, an Episcopal priest who is not exactly the most likable of characters. He's managed to alienate at least half of his parishioners by dragging them, kicking and screaming, toward his view of what's what, with the result that his flock is inexorably straying toward other shepherds.
When Beale is accused of murder, Attorney Ben Kincaid is there to see him through. Kincaid and Beale go back a long way, practically to Kincaid's childhood, and Kincaid is more than capable of seeing the good in the man.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
CRIMINAL INTENT by William Bernhardt
Ballantine Books, 2002 $23.95 0-345-44173-7
Ben Kincaid, a defense attorney in Tulsa, is asked for help by a friend. Read more
This is my introduction to this author and his apparently recurring cast of characters, and it will be my last look in their direction. Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2003 by Rockinbald
Reviewer Eleanor Miller has written a first rate review of this book which I agree with without reservation. Read morePublished on Oct. 5 2002 by John R. Linnell
William Bernhardt is a past master at successfully turning red-hot issues into fictional pyrotechnics. Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2002 by Eleanor V. Miller
"Criminal Intent" is the latest entry in William Bernhardt's Ben Kincaid series. Ben is a criminal defense attorney in Oklahoma who is shy in social situations, but he is a... Read morePublished on Sept. 14 2002 by E. Bukowsky
See storyline above.
Ben Kincaid, the Tulsa attorney, returns to the front, in one of Bernhardt's best novels yet. Read more
Defense attorney Ben Kincaid has faced heinous crimes before, but none with the intensity of the one he is about to face. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2002 by Nick G