by Sonya BeasleyMay, 2000
Frank O'Connell had been struggling with his lot in life since he married Moira. As a young lawyer with a bright future, beautiful wife and son, and a partnership in his wealthy and powerful father-in-law's practice, Frank seemed to have everything. Then something changes. He begins searching for that one thing that defines a person's powerful sense of self-worth. He could no longer find it at home or at the office. So he gives up his perfect life to become a court-appointed attorney at the beck-and-call of drug-users and petty criminals. After experiencing life at the opposite end of the spectrum, however, Frank isn't so sure he has made the right decision.
Welcome to Stephen Horn's debut legal thriller, In Her Defense. As a former prosecutor for the Justice Department, Horn has lived the stuff of which the very best legal thrillers are made. He's quick to point out there are many things he can't reveal about his career. But what he can glean from his experience, he does in this incredible story of one man's struggle to bring justice into the world, and maybe even find himself along the way.
Horn's lead character is pondering his life-changing decision one day as he enters the cellblock that houses one of his clients another defendant in a drug case. That's where Frank meets Ashley Bronson, a gorgeous socialite in prison for the murder of former Agriculture Secretary and long-time family friend, Raymond Garvey. Ashley decides she wants Frank to plead her case. She is convinced that Garvey's actions drove her father to commit suicide. Before the trial ends, Frank will reveal to Ashley the truth about her father, his invention, and a life-long friend, and some shocking history about the United States government.
Horn's main characters are at odds, at times, with issues of right and wrong. Some are naive to the ways of the justice system; others, long since jaded. But they all blend to make this story riveting. We want Frank to save Ashley and we want him to save himself, too. After all, if he can, maybe there's hope for the rest of us. Sonya Beasley, a native Mississippian, is hopelessly devoted to her husband Scott, and her hamster Penelope.