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Criminal Intent [Mass Market Paperback]

William Bernhardt
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 1 2003
When a priest with radical ideas and a parish council with traditional values lock horns over the beliefs they hold most sacred, there’s bound to be controversy—and consequences. But murder crosses the line between committing a sin and committing a crime, turning a battle over faith into a battle for justice. And smack in the middle of the explosive case is Tulsa attorney Ben Kincaid.

Kincaid rescued Father Daniel Beale once before. When the priest’s renegade views and violent temper nearly cost him his position as rector of St. Benedict’s Church, Ben intervened and saved the day. Now Beale is the prime suspect in the brutal murder of a female parishioner—though lack of evidence has left the case unsolved. But as Father Beale struggles to escape the shadow of suspicion, another woman is savagely slaughtered. And this time, Ben himself discovers Beale literally red-handed . . . with the blood of the victim.

As Father Beale declares his innocence, Ben and his team feverishly work to build a defense that will deliver the man of God from a date with the death chamber. But each new revelation that emerges in the packed courtroom only serves to tilt the scales increasingly in the prosecution’s favor. And Father Beale’s own shocking testimony ignites a firestorm of controversy that could doom his last best hope for acquittal.

In his heart and in his gut, Ben knows Father Beale is innocent. But proving it means taking a leap of faith that will plunge Ben into the whirlpool of dark secrets and dangerous intentions that surround St. Benedict’s. And ultimately, it will force the idealistic attorney to confront the chilling face of evil in the most unexpected of places.

Criminal Intent proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the author of Murder One has earned his critical reputation as the master of the courtroom drama whose novels of legal suspense consistently offer a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Description

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

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.

Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Kincaid & Friends Just Keep Getting Better Sept. 2 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First, and most important, this is a cracking good story, with surprises right up to the end. Even if you have never read anything about Ben Kincaid before, you can start with this one and enjoy it tremendously, but it is all the more fun if Ben, Christina, Jones, Loving, and the others are old friends.
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Religious does not necessarily mean 'good'... June 8 2003
You'd never guess from the title that the defense lawyer, Ben Kincaid, is going to be up to his neck in religious shenanigans...but he is. Unfortunately, in this case he is disappointed to find out how too fallible his religious guide/priest/whatever is. Bernhardt nicely involves a lot of different Christian denominations in this book...without saying anything nasty or prejudicial about them.
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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Somebody shoot me! Please! Dec 2 2002
As soon as I saw that this book was available, I whipped out my credit card and ordered it. Last year Final Round was published, and during a similar lull of common sense, I ordered that one, too. I thought why not wait for Ben, Christina, Loving, and Jones to return to form? Consequently, when I saw Criminal Intent was in the stores, I leaped for it. Mistake.
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.
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William Bernhardt is one of those guys who labors mightily and persistently despite not being a household name. He actually makes this work to his benefit. He can stretch a bit here and there, and take a chance or three that he might not otherwise be able to because he, at this stage, is not quite well known enough to have to live up to certain expectations. I'm not sure why he isn't better known --- his publisher certainly believes in him, and he can craft as a compelling a page turner as anyone. If one occasionally finds their suspension of disbelief sliding into "Hey, wait a minute" territory while reading his work, it certainly doesn't keep the pages from turning almost of their own volition.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant diversion on a hot summer day
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
Published on March 9 2004 by Larry
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Poor
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 more
Published on Aug. 29 2003 by Rockinbald
4.0 out of 5 stars Life at St. Benedict's Has a Lot to Do With Death
Reviewer Eleanor Miller has written a first rate review of this book which I agree with without reservation. Read more
Published on Oct. 5 2002 by John R. Linnell
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid Writing Marred by an Ambiguous Premise!
William Bernhardt is a past master at successfully turning red-hot issues into fictional pyrotechnics. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2002 by Eleanor V. Miller
3.0 out of 5 stars Sordid tale of a priest accused of murder.
"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 more
Published on Sept. 14 2002 by E. Bukowsky
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 stars
See storyline above.
Ben Kincaid, the Tulsa attorney, returns to the front, in one of Bernhardt's best novels yet. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2002 by Konrad Kern
4.0 out of 5 stars A good legal thriller.
Defense attorney Ben Kincaid has faced heinous crimes before, but none with the intensity of the one he is about to face. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2002 by Nick G
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Legal Thriller From the Best Legal Thriller Writer
I can't understand why more people don't know about and read William Bernhardt. He is the best of the legal thriller writers and I think this is his best book yet. Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2002
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