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Cruel Justice (Ben Kincaid)

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"A thoroughly entertaining page-turner." --Phillip Margolin. Leeman Hayes, a black teenager in Tulsa, is accused of brutally murdering a young woman. As attorney Ben Kincaid struggles to pull together a defense, a young boy is falling into the clutches of a child molester. Ten-year-old Abie Rutherford, lonely and desperate for approval, thinks the handsome, smiling stranger in the baseball cap might be that friend he has longed for. When Abie Rutherford vanishes without a trace one hot summer day, Ben Kincaid, like everyone else in Tulsa, fears the worst. Then a bone-chilling discovery compels Ben to forge a link between the missing boy and the seemingly hopeless case of Leeman Hayes--thereby igniting the fuse for the most explosive courtroom case of Ben's career. "An enthralling murder mystery . . . The ending is both surprising and explosive." --The Sunday Oklahoman. The loyalty of suspense and mystery fans is not fickle, so long as the author produces credible characters and allows them to develop; humor and a certain feckless quality in a major character are lagniappe and much appreciated. Cruel Justice is just such a treat. Tulsa defense lawyer Ben Kincaid finds himself with a hopeless case. His client is a mentally challenged, confessed killer. Moreover, there's a serial killer on the loose in the city, Ben's sister hands him a baby and disappears, and his mother comes to town. Ben and his helpers scramble against the clock to develop a defense for his client. The author plays fair, dropping clues in all the right places and building the scaffolding for the sequel. If the humor is occasionally a bit broad and the minor characters a bit one-dimensional, true genre fans won't care; they will be too busy hunting for Bernhardt's previous books (e.g., Double Jeopardy, Ballantine, 1995) and waiting for the next. For all popular collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/95.]-Elsa Pendleton, Boeing Computer Support Svcs., Ridgecrest, Cal. - Library Journal. Here Bernhardt reintroduces attorney Ben Kinkaid, absent from his previous book, "Double Jeopardy" , to star in another superb legal thriller. Bernhardt is expert at maintaining a keep-'em-guessin' quality as Kinkaid, a lawyer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, becomes involved in a an old murder case: a woman was found impaled by a golf club in the country-club caddy shack. One of the caddies was incarcerated, but because of problems stemming from his limited mental faculties, he is being brought to trial 10 years after the murder occurred. Kinkaid reluctantly takes the case, for a voice keeps telling him he needs to pursue a practice loftier than representing "hard-luck stories." Meanwhile, a rash of child molestation and murder has thrown the city into a panic. Twists and turns and several subplots only add to the deliciousness of the complicated story line as Kinkaid unearths connections between Tulsa's upper crust and the city's drug-dealing underworld. Those very connections eventually answer the question of who "really" was the golf clubwielding murderer. Wonderfully diverting reading. - Brad Hooper