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Defensive Wounds    by Lisa Black order for
Defensive Wounds
by Lisa Black
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Someone's killing lawyers at a Ritz-Carlton conference in Lisa Black's Defensive Wounds, the fourth (following Takeover, Evidence of Murder and Trail of Blood) in her absorbing series starring Cleveland forensic investigator Theresa MacLean. Complicating matters, Theresa's teen daughter Rachael is working at the Ritz-Carlton for the summer. And her cop cousin, Frank Patrick, is pulled into the investigation.

First to die is rapacious criminal defense attorney Marie Corrigan, who is found naked and hogtied, with her skull split in the hotel's Presidential Suite. Corrigan was loathed by police officers and forensic scientists alike for her courtroom antics - she exploited her looks and ruthlessly manipulated the legal system for her own ends. Marie dated married, 'king of the hill' attorney Dennis Britton, 'who exclusively defends murderers and rapists' and was even sleazier than she was - could he be the killer?

Theresa finds herself attracted to the lead investigator for the case, Detective Neil Kelly. He's disturbed when suspicion falls on the hotel security chief, an ex-cop who was once his partner. And as Theresa methodically collects evidence - there are further murders - she becomes increasingly concerned for Rachael who has fallen hard for William Rosedale, a fellow hotel employee. Why the concern? William was tried as a juvenile for the rape and murder of a classmate - defended by Marie Corrigan, he was acquitted.

Matters come to a heart-stopping finale on an observation deck high above the city, and Theresa subsequently ties up all forensic loose ends. Defensive Wounds is a well plotted mystery, with a thrilling ending. But what I liked about it most were the credible familial relationships - between Theresa and Frank and especially between mother and daughter. I look forward to more of this engaging series.

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