11 April 2007

Double Tap, by Steve Martini

April 11 2007 (21:27:00) ( 1 view )

A Paul Madriani Novel.
Jove (Penguin) 2006. 401 pages.
First printing: G.P. Putnam's Sons (hardcover) 2005.

Wow. Once again, Steve Martini has reminded me that he deserves nothing less than the status of such legal-thriller genre authors as Grisham and Turow. He is a master, and I often think he's even better than the others. Double Tap is nothing less than a triumph for Martini and I hope he gets the recognition and compensation he deserves.

Note to movie producers: If nobody has started a film project based on this book, run, do not walk, to this man's agent and pay what you have to for the rights. This is a terrific movie between paper covers. I don't mean to belittle or demean this novel's accomplishments as simply a novel. It is perfectly successful without leaving the printed page. I only wish to see this type of effort lavishly rewarded, and I suspect that such rewards are more available from the film rather than the print industry.

Paul Madriani is a lawyer working in the La Jolla/San Diego area. We first met him in earlier novels working in "Capital City," which one suspects to be a thinly disguised Sacramento. But Paul's life has changed since the early days. His wife passed away, the victim of cancer, his daugher has grown up, he has had some traumatic experiences with violence related to his cases, and he is a tough, mature man with strong convictions. He is, in short, the perfect modern-day noir hero. He is a type of Legal Samurai, with an aw-shucks overlay reminiscent of a Woody Allen character. I hadn't read a Paul Madriani book in some time and I felt as if I were seeing a favorite old friend again.

Paul works with a partner, Harry Hinds, a character Harry Morgan was born to play.

In this story Paul and Harry defend Emiliano Ruiz, a young special-forces veteran accused of murdering a woman for whom he had worked as a bodyguard. As the plot unfolds, we are treated to a full-fledged whodunit laced with cybernetics, Federal government malfeasance, hints about the PATRIOT act, the NSA, legislative corruption at both the State and Federal levels -- a delicious salad of thriller, mystery, and modern-day political commentary.

Ruiz is charged with the murder of Madelyn Chapman, a filthy-rich software executive who had an ongoing close working relationship with a shady "General Satz." Chapman's company, "Isotenics,Inc." seems to be in possession of a terrifically powerful database application that would enable data mining on an unprecedented scale, national if not global, and would give whoever controlled it the ability to monitor and predict the actions of all types of people, allies, enemies, whatever -- if it were given access to enough data. We are shown that Isotenics most likely stole the source code for this application from a now sick and dying programmer named Kaprosky, who helps Madriani and Hinds with their case.

Double Tap is a great, satisfying thriller and mystery, with a real surprise ending. Don't miss it, and don't miss the movie (if somebody takes my tip -- remember, you heard it here first!).


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