Review

Death Row

by William Bernhardt



Ben Kincaid is not the typical attorney one encounters in a legal
thriller. He is not especially self-assured, doesn't have an
interesting social life --- doesn't have a social life at all,
actually --- and has a penchant for representing clients with
little or no financial wherewithal. His strongest asset is doing
and fighting for what he believes is right. William Bernhardt,
Kincaid's creator, has been slowly but progressively combining
these elements over a series of novels and has developed in Kincaid
a quietly compelling and endearing character.

DEATH ROW begins, as do most Kincaid novels, with a violent
incident that is graphically described. The Faulkner family
experiences a home invasion that leaves all of its members, except
for one, victims of violent mutilation and murder. A suspect, Ray
Goldman, is duly arrested, tried and, based on damning testimony
from Erin Faulkner, the surviving victim, is convicted and
sentenced to death --- despite the best efforts of his defense
attorney, who is, of course, Kincaid.

Seven years later, moments before his execution is scheduled to
take place, Goldman receives a last-minute, if temporary, reprieve
thanks to Kincaid's dogged efforts. Kincaid still needs a miracle,
however, if he is to have Goldman's conviction overturned. His
prayers seem to be answered when Erin Faulkner appears at his
office and admits that she perjured herself on the witness stand.
Kincaid is certain that her testimony can clear Goldman. But when
Erin is found dead as the result of an apparent suicide, Kincaid
and his client are not only back to Square One, but also behind the
eightball: the case has been assigned to Judge Derek, Kincaid's
longtime nemesis.

Always a solid writer, Bernhardt gets better and better with each
successive novel. He has been gradually nudging Kincaid and
Christina McCall, his law partner, closer and closer together, and
Kincaid actually does the unthinkable in DEATH ROW. No, not that
--- we're talking about the socially hapless Ben Kincaid here ---
but he at least gets started down the road. Bernhardt's willingness
to continually develop his characters around an always solid and
absorbing plot makes DEATH ROW worth reading and the Kincaid series
a perennial favorite.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

Death Row
by William Bernhardt

  • Publication Date: February 3, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett
  • ISBN-10: 0345441761
  • ISBN-13: 9780345441768