Home from Iraq, a lieutenant kills his commanding officer—was it self-defense or premeditated murder? An enthralling novel of suspense about the high cost of war and secrets
The McCarrans and the Gallaghers, two military families, have been close for decades, ever since Anthony McCarran—now one of the army’s most distinguished generals—became best friends with Jack Gallagher, a fellow West Pointer who was later killed in Vietnam. Now a new generation of soldiers faces combat, and Lt. Brian McCarran, the general’s son, has returned from a harrowing tour in Iraq. Traumatized by wartime experiences he will not reveal, Brian depends on his lifelong friendship with Kate Gallagher, Jack’s daughter, who is married to Brian’s commanding officer in Iraq, Capt. Joe D’Abruzzo. But since coming home, D’Abruzzo also seems changed by the experiences he and Brian shared—he’s become secretive and remote.
Tragedy strikes when Brian shoots and kills D’Abruzzo on their army post in Virginia. Brian pleads self-defense, claiming that D’Abruzzo, a black-belt martial artist, came to his quarters, accused him of interfering with his marriage, and attacked him. Kate supports Brian and says that her husband had become violent and abusive. But Brian and Kate have secrets of their own, and now Capt. Paul Terry, one of the army’s most accomplished young lawyers, will defend Brian in a high-profile court-martial. Terry’s co-counsel is Meg McCarran, Brian’s sister, a brilliant and beautiful attorney who insists on leaving her practice in San Francisco to help save her brother. Before the case is over, Terry will become deeply entwined with Meg and the McCarrans—and learn that families, like war, can break the sturdiest of souls.
Starred Review. Bestseller Patterson (Eclipse) explores the concept of honor—and how men and women can sometimes embody and sometimes blacken this lofty concept—in this riveting legal thriller. When Lt. Brian McCarran shoots and kills his superior officer, Capt. Joe D’Abruzzo, at Fort Bolton in northern Virginia soon after they return from a tour in Iraq, 31-year-old Capt. Paul Terry, of the army’s JAG Corps, defends the lieutenant. That the accused is the son of legendary Gen. Anthony McCarran, the current army chief of staff, makes it an especially sensitive court-martial. To complicate matters, Joe was married to Kate Gallagher, the general’s goddaughter and lifelong friend of Brian and the McCarran family. Sparks fly after Brian’s gorgeous older attorney sister, Meg, insists on working with Paul. As always, Patterson chooses to deal with difficult themes, this time PTSD and the war in Iraq. This is superior genre fiction from a writer at the top of his game. (June)
Patterson returns to the courtroom that made him famous in thrillers such as Degree of Guilt (1993) as military lawyer Paul Terry takes on the case of a young lieutenant accused of fatally shooting his commanding officer with the man’s own gun. Brian McCarran comes from a long line of distinguished officers, including his father, the imperious General Anthony McCarran, the army’s chief of staff. The man he stands accused of shooting, Captain Joe D’Abruzzo, was not only Brian’s commanding officer in Iraq but was also married to Brian’s childhood friend, Kate Gallagher. Brian claims that he was protecting Kate; a witness for the prosecution claims Kate and Brian were having an affair. Paul goes forward with the defense in part because of Brian’s beautiful sister, Meg, who has left her job in San Francisco to serve as his co-counsel. Those familiar with Patterson’s works know they build slowly and carefully. What distinguishes this story is not only the minutiae of the trial but also vivid accounts of what soldiers face in Iraq. Readers will find themselves engrossed as well as pleased by a twist revealing that there’s more to this powerful yet seemingly straightforward story than first meets the eye. –Kristine Huntley