Roger Karp, the handsome DA with an insatiable lust for justice, won't rest until he gets no lesser plea than "guilty of murder" out of a vicious assasin. Mandeville Louis had just killed two people in cold blood, then cleverly threw a phony crazy fit in court and walked away from his trial. Now, laying in wait in a psychiatric ward until the heat is off, Louis may slip through the system again. But Karp refuses to let go of this smiling dude who laughs at the law while he kills and kills and kills. For even in the relative security of a mental hospital, Louis's killing spree is not over as Karp's beautiful colleague, Marlene Ciampi, becomes an unwitting pawn in the two men's deadly battle of minds...and murder.
Tanenbaum has written an exceptionally good contemporary novel about the criminal justice system. Set in New York during the early '70s, the book focuses on young, idealistic assistant D.A. Butch Karp and his conflicts with both a single criminal and the politicized bureaucracy that seemingly makes a travesty of justice. In his first murder case, Karp is prosecuting Mandeville Louis, a brilliant killer who has feigned insanity, hoping to protect himself from trial until the court system eventually forgets about him. But the determined Karp refuses to let Louis's ruse succeed. While Karp is trying to put Louis behind bars, he is also caught up in the politics of the D.A.'s office as petty bureaucrats struggle for control of their turf and power. An attorney himself, Tanenbaum has infused this book with a strong collection of characters, a raunchy energy that crackles in the out-of-office lawyer talk and a basic sense of outrage at a system that is failing miserably.
"No Lesser Plea" is intelligently written and the characters are well developed. However, Tannenbaum's story bogs down in the antics of the District Attorney's office which distracts from the legal thriller. Still a good read.