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Degree of Guilt [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Richard North Patterson , Ken Howard
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 15 2001
Mary Carelli, one of the most powerful women in TV journalism, is charged with the murder of Mark Ransom, America's most eminent novelist. Her attorney, Christopher Paget, sets out to shock the courtroom with revelations about Ransom as a twisted sexual predator. But as the trial unfolds, it is Paget who will be Mary's secret motive for evidence that Mary is a woman prosecutor who believes Mary invented the story of rape...and by an enigmatic judge with an agenda of her own....

From the Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

The core of Richard North Patterson's legal thrillers is characterization, and Degree of Guilt, the novel that relaunched his career in 1993, features two captivating individuals: Christopher Paget and Mary Carelli. Paget, the upstart hero of Patterson's 1979 Edgar-winning The Lasko Tangent, is now a sophisticated trial lawyer doing his best to raise a teenage son in San Francisco. He's a man to be admired: famous for bringing down the president in a financial scandal, he has settled into the comfortable life of a successful attorney. His life is transformed, however, when his former lover (and mother of his son), Mary Carelli, pays a visit.

The novel begins in a San Francisco hotel room as Mary, now an NBC journalist, surveys the torn landscape of author Mark Ransom's apartment. Ransom is, or was, America's most eminent writer. As she tells the police, Ransom had uncovered new recorded evidence of an affair between a long-dead starlet and a now-sainted senator (shades of Marilyn Monroe and JFK). While Ransom and Mary were listening to the tapes, she claims, he tried to rape her and she killed him in self-defense. Mary turns to Paget to defend her in what becomes a complex case of missing and conflicting evidence. Old emotions are stirred between the two just as Paget begins to doubt Mary's innocence.

The suspense of Degree of Guilt is grounded in the twists and turns of the trial at the novel's center, but just as compelling is the emerging history of Mary and Paget, and Paget's struggles to keep his son out of the media frenzy surrounding his mother's case. As well, Patterson addresses the deeper ethical questions that face many lawyers as they decide which cases to take and which evidence to use. Capturing archetypal characters and situations, Degree of Guilt becomes a parable of American law. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This big courtroom thriller, which comes garlanded with hefty foreign sales and a huge first printing, is being touted as the best of its kind since Scott Turow's fiction debut. It does not survive such a comparison well, having none of the density, psychological acuity or sense of place and character of Turow's two bestsellers. It is an agreeable, overstuffed and creakily plotted but absorbing piece of work that passes the time well enough and leaves no aftertaste whatsoever. The hero is Christopher Paget, who had an affair with TV newswoman Mary Carelli many years ago when both were involved in a Washington scandal; he is now an ace defense attorney in San Francisco. Carelli has killed obnoxious, world-famous novelist Mark Ransom in a hotel room, claiming that he tried to rape her. Can Paget defend her, in view of their shared past, and the fact that she seems to be the mother of his only son? And why is so much of what she says about the would-be rape so plainly untrue? Patterson takes more than 500 pages--including often skillfully handled court scenes before a nicely characterized woman judge, and the discoveries of a lot of highly emotional old tapes, all involving the same Beverly Hills psychiatrist with several principal characters--before the issue is resolved. Along the way there are subplots galore, involving an evil Kennedy-type senator with a Monroe look-alike ; a tragic lesbian movie queen ; Paget's pretty assistant's unhappy home life ; a shamelessly hokey climactic basketball game ; and ultimate political skulduggery by the DA. Patterson does his best to keep it all moving, and some court scenes tingle. But the characters, and many situations, are pure California cardboard. 250,000 first printing; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 stars please !!! March 5 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Fantastic!!!!. This book is going to go into my top 100 paperback reads of my life. I mean this is a book that has a basic plot which is kind of steered in such a manner to make it really look more complicated. The beauty of the book is the mixing of the flashbacks with the present. I mean few authors given this basic plot line could have told a story which is pushed forward by such amount of sheer relentless tension and suspense for over 500 odd pages. Mr paget is a attorney acting as defence for an alleged murderer who happens to be his divorced wife who in turn claims that she shot the man she is accused of killing in self defence in the process of avoiding getting raped. The whole book unravels chapter by chapter where Mr Paget and ourselves dont know whether to believe the story of the accused story or the evidence of the prosecutor. Evidence doesnt support the theory of the defendant and we keep hurtling through the pages as Mr paget battles it out in the courtroom trying to convince the court that there isnt full and incontrovertible evidence pointing to his clients guilt. The twists and turns, the lies and deception will thrill you and the emotional aspect of the book has been delt superbly. This book is legal drama thriller interspersed with emotional family drama. Enjoy...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just Great March 4 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Just Great !! This is one of the few court room driven books, that I have liked and not wanted to filp ahead or just put down. I just read this book, I had bought it used. It was well worth the S&H charges too. R.N.P was very detailed and tied every piece together. Excellent Book !!!!
BUT !!! The other day I saw a preview for this a Lifetime movie that combined Degree Of Guilt and another. Well, the acting was BAD, the editing WORSE.. This could have made such a great movie, why it was so poorly screen-made, it's just a shame.Advice Don't bother with the Made for tv movie.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Page Turning Legal Thriller Aug. 13 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was a page turning legal thriller from the very beginning. Mr. Patterson manages to weave legal procedures into a gripping story that does not leave the reader neither confused nor bored. This was a first time read for me by this author and I was thrilled to find it very entertaining. This book had it all, suspense, romance (only a little and very back burner), me pick this book up you won't be able to put it down. This will be an author that I will read again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE NTH DEGREE March 5 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As I continue to read Mr. Patterson's books, I am in awe at this man's brilliance and writing skills. "Degree of Guilt" is an awesome book, filled with labrynthine plottings, excellently developed characters, and competent legal derring-do. As in all of Patterson's books, we find characters that are far from perfect, and whose personal secrets and disappointments can be both heartwrenching and disturbing. Unfortunately, I read "Eyes of a Child" which was written after this, so I knew some of what was going on with Mary and Paget and with Teresa and Richie. Patterson's development of the tension between Terri and her worthless husband is chilling; with no resolution truly in this book, one can find out what happens in "Eyes of a Child," but you would do best to read this one first.
Anyway, we know from the beginning that Mary Carelli murdered Mark Ransome, but why and what is all the intriguing things that Mary has done that she won't share with Paget? Patterson brilliantly unfolds a scenario that takes us back into Chris and Mary's past; and how Terri and Chris become the best of friends and more so. It's a great book, I don't want to go into too many plot details, but trust me, this one is a real winner!
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By Chris P
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Patterson is the thinking man's Grisham. His characters take on a life of their own, and Degree of Guilt doesn't disappoint. RNB is really the best of his genre, as his books are fast-paced, intelligently written, and are plausible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read! May 8 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
RNP is one of my favourite writers and this is one of his best. It is a real courtroom thriller and really keeps you hooked. The surprises are great, especially the one towards the end of the book. A must read especially if you are a courtroom thriller lover.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tension-filled Legal Thriller Jan. 5 2002
Degree of Guilt's protagonist, Christopher Paget, has a difficult decision to make. His former lover, the mother of his son, has suddenly reappeared in their lives. The reason? She's accused of murdering one of America's best-known novelists.
While the courtroom dramatics are gripping, it is the out-of-court events which really propel this novel. Paget's emotional journey as the story unfolds is one that will cause the reader to feel sympathy pains.
This was my first time to read Patterson, but definitely not the last.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My first Patterson... Aug. 20 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was the first book from Richard North Patterson that I have read, and certainly not the last. Character are very well defined and dialogues are very good. Patterson know how to tell a good legal story...
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