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Publisher's Summary

Five years ago Barbara Holloway gave up practicing law, disillusioned with a profession that put politics before justice. Then she receives a phone call, with a simple message: "I need you."

Nell Kendricks's husband disappeared seven years earlier, abandoning his young family. Nell hasn't seen him since, until the day Lucas Kendricks arrives at the edge of her property and is shot, instantly killed.

Accused of his murder, Nell turns to lawyer Frank Holloway for help. But Frank knows he cannot win this case alone. He calls upon his daughter Barbara, who remains "death qualified," legally able to defend clients who face the death penalty if convicted.

Barbara is determined to stay distanced from the case, but the more she learns, the more questions she finds herself asking. Is Nell innocent, as Frank attests? Where has Lucas Kendricks been for the past seven years? Despite her vow, Barbara finds herself drawn to the case and reclaims the search for truth that first led her to the law.

It's legal: download more of Barbara Holloway's cases.
©1991 Kate Wilhelm (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Wilhelm is a masterful storyteller whose novels have just the right blend of solid plot, compelling mystery, and great courtroom drama." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Alex
  • Laguna Beach, CA, USA
  • 12-19-04

a good plot and a great reader

Anna field's reading got me hooked on the characters. Yes, the mastering was faulty with repeating sentences, and a couple of the male characters sounded similar. Overall Anna does an excellent job, and this plot is a good complex mystery. Because of this book, I purchased and listened to the sequel, "The Best Defence" in a matter of days to get my fix of the characters. Good character evolvement! I highly recommend it

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bryan
  • Ooltewah, TN, USA
  • 04-20-04

A decent time killer, editing bobbles are a bonus

I've heard better. Although I'm not a seasoned book reader / listener, this book was not on the top of the list as far a "hearability." At times it was hard to follow the reader. It sometimes was her accent, or the voice she was reading it in, but I would have to go back and review the last 30 sec to make sure I was on track.

It moves along without leaving you staring off into space, and kept my interest high for the most part.

Several times I heard the voice tallent re-read a section, which is something that the editors should have caught.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 10-01-11

Death Qualified

This is my second Wilhelm book and I enjoyed it. I like the travel guide of the Eugene area. The book provided a bit of suspense, love story and court room drama to make it interesting. I hope that in future stories Barbara quits running away and get down to being an attorney. Looking forward to more in this series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kay M
  • Roseburg, OR, USA
  • 04-25-04

My, Oh My!

This is the third Kate Wilhelm book I have listened to and must agree with the first reviewer. I had trouble distinguishing one man's voice from all the other men's voices. They not only sounded alike but had the same tone and "attitude" in their voices. I also noticed that 6 or more times the author repeated the same sentence or two. It was a little annoying.

But more annoying than that was the plot....I live in Oregon and could listen to the beautiful descriptions of the rivers and mountains endlessly. But I doubt many southerners or easterners really want to spend that much time learning about the Northwest landscape. But the most annoying thing of all - I got tired of being lectured to regarding every subject imaginable from the environment, homosexuality, societal shortcomings, timber cruising and even futuristic technological dangers!

You may well enjoy this novel - I couldn't wait for it to end.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This was an interesting story but the recording errors took away from the flow of the plot...too bad!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandra
  • Canandaigua, NY, USA
  • 08-29-04

Highly enjoyable

I'm back to find another book by the same author. I found it extremely enjoyable and easy listening. Barbara's being caught up in the chaos theory and looking at many things througout the book with fractals in mind makes her believeable as a problem solver. It's not James Joyce's Ulysses, but then that isn't the sort of thing one reads just for good clean fun. On the other hand, it might be fun to look at the book with the chaos theory and fractals as its basis. Why not try it?

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lisa
  • Great Valley, NY, USA
  • 06-09-04

a very good book

I really enjoy Kate Wilhelm novels and found this be no exception. In fact this is one of my favorites for some of the reasons many of the other reviewers disliked it, i.e. some futuristic topics thrown in, NW scenery and cleanly written relationship scenarios. I am relieved to hear the double sentences are not an error of my equipment, but what gives!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Slightly dissappointed

This is my 3rd Kate Wilhelm book and my least favorite. I could deal with the narrator, even tho there were too many repeated paragraphs that at times I thought were skips in the CD. The story line wasn't the best that I've heard, but I rated the book so low due to the lack of definition in 'what exactly' the scientists were testing for. There was just too much left up for the reader to determine. Other than that the story line was a 3.5 and worth listening to.

I agree with another reviewer in that the ending wasn't that good. Left too much sorrow open for interpretation. The book didn't have to have a "happy" ending; it just needed a more definite one. I also felt like there was just too much that didn't seem to match up with the same character in the other 2 books of Wilhelm's.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent Book ? Poor Mastering

I loved the story and was sorry to see it end. However, I would have preferred a happier ending. Wilhelm gives us enough detail about the characters and the setting that we have no trouble imagining them.

The mastering, though was very poor! In quite a few places, a paragraph was repeated. Also, I had to download both parts of the book twice because the originals were completely garbled from some point into each part until the end.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Bad download!

There were so many errors in this download - not the author's fault, but just a warning to those who are considering purchasing.

The book is okay, but too abstract for me. I actually like this narrator and have enjoyed her reading some other "Barbara Holloway" novels, but I found this book to be tedious and annoying with the vague details and ridiculous plot twists.

The author seems to have a bizarre obsession with what everyone is drinking - it just comes up too often.

There are better Kate Wilhelm books.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful