Jodi Picoult, who at age 34 has eight novels and three children to her credit, was born and raised on Long Island. She received a doctorate in creative writing from Princeton and a master's degree in education from Harvard.
Ambitious and successful, Nina Frost has been a prosecuting attorney for York County, ME, for seven years, seeing that lawbreakers get what they deserve. She and her husband, Caleb, are devoted to their bright five-year-old son, Nathaniel, but their cozy family circle is broken when he is sexually molested and the parish priest is charged with the deed. Just as the trial gets underway, Nina commits a crime of her own based on erroneous evidence. How far will a mother go to avenge harm to her child? What happens when the prosecutor becomes the defendant? What could have been a pat solution takes several unexpected twists on its way to a not-quite-perfect conclusion. The fast-paced story is told in present tense from multiple points of view. Narrator Nancy Black skillfully differentiates among the characters: Nina, brisk and efficient; Nathaniel, with the kind of phrasing a young child really would have; and third-person for Caleb and others. Unfortunately, there are many mispronunciations of American words. For collections where the author is popular.-Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
One plot element"a case of child molestation involving a Catholic priest"in Picoult's latest novel (after Salem Falls) now seems eerily prescient, but that's only part of the saga she weaves, which is primarily an indictment of the current criminal justice system. Nina Frost, an assistant district attorney in Maine, knows how hard it is to obtain a conviction for a sex crime when the victim is a juvenile, so when her five-year-old son, Nathaniel, identifies their priest as being the man who raped him, Nina's grievances with the system become personal. Frustrated by the threat of an unsatisfactory legal outcome, she takes the law into her own hands, killing the priest in open court. Awaiting her own trial, a startling fact emerges from the DNA: the priest was innocent. Will Nina be able to prove to a jury that her actions were justified, particularly since she killed the wrong man? Picoult adeptly renders Nina's feelings"impotence, guilt, the drive for retribution"but Nina is herself an unsympathetic heroine, from her initial accusation of her husband to her arrogant vigilante stance, which does little to persuade the reader that an act of premeditation should be recast as maternal instinct. While the argument that the current system is flawed is solid, the only alternative offered is an iffy form of frontier justice that many readers may find unpalatable. (May) Forecast: The cover, a cozy-looking New England home surrounded by flowers at sunset, won't give browsers any hint of what's inside, but the ripped-from-the-headlines plot should generate sufficient buzz to overcome that. Major ad/promo; 11-city author tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.