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Death's Witness


Death's Witness

I love it when a book from a new author hits the doorstep, and it
turns out to be so good that it seems to be velcroed to my hands
once I start reading. I had this experience with DEATH'S WITNESS by
Paul Batista. Batista is a prominent defense attorney and, perhaps
more importantly in this age of the electronic media, a go-to guy
for Court TV and elsewhere. Such a curriculum vitae does not
guarantee a work of the quality of DEATH'S WITNESS, but in
Batista's case his literary prowess is the equal of his legal

Batista commences the book with an extremely gutsy move: he kills
off a gentleman who arguably is his main character. Tom Perini is a
legendary football player, a Heisman Trophy winner who turned pro
only to turn his back on his instant name recognition and fame to
attend law school and become a defense attorney. We are barely
introduced to Perini when he is gunned down in Central Park while
jogging, an incident that appears to the police to be a random act
of violence but is known to the reader to be a deliberate hit.
Perini leaves a young daughter and a wife, Julie, who
understandably is grief-stricken and baffled by her husband's

Disappointed by the police investigation and angered by the
attitude of an FBI agent who has interjected himself into the case,
Julia begins investigating on her own, focusing on her husband's
professional life and specifically on a money-laundering case that
he had been trying at the time of his death. Julia slowly begins to
uncover a series of quiet deceptions in Perini's life that leads
her to conclude that he was living a double life. With the aid of
Vincent Sorrentino, a defense attorney representing a co-defendant
in the trial Perini was involved in, Julia finds that she and her
loved ones are in terrible danger, and that the only way to protect
herself and her family is to discover the secrets that her husband
hid from her so well.

Batista, in a word, is wonderful here, guiding his readers
skillfully and assuredly through a complex plot. Though it is not
immediately obvious, Batista eschews what would have been an easy
path for him --- writing a courtroom thriller --- in favor of
presenting a mystery unraveled through dogged determination. While
there are courtroom scenes in the book, they add to and enhance the
story rather than become the alpha and omega of the tale.

DEATH'S WITNESS is Exhibit A for the proposition that Batista is as
much a winner at writing as he is at defending.


Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 29, 2010

Death's Witness
by Paul Batista

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
  • ISBN-10: 1402206658
  • ISBN-13: 9781402206658