Robert Heilbrun is a skilled storyteller. It will not be long before his work is compared to that of Scott Turrow and John Grisham. His debut novel, Offer of Proof, is proof enough that Heilbrun possess genuine talent for unleashing a top-notch legal thriller.
Arch Gold is a public defender -- by choice. He is one of the best trial lawyers around, so it surprises many that he is not working as a partner in some well-respected law firm. In fact, his seeming lack of ambition was enough to destroy his short-lived marriage. But Gold can't help it. He likes what he does and where he is in life.
Damon Tucker is a young black kid, running on his way home from work. Minding his own business listening to music on his Walkman, Tucker is grabbed by the police and arrested for mugging and murdering a rich white woman. When Gold is assigned to his case, it takes a while before Tucker can accept that his free, public defender is going to work diligently to get at the truth.
But what is the truth? When arrested, cops found a few bucks in Tucker's wallet, and a wad in his pants pocket. When tested, the money in the wad had the victim's fingerprints on it. To make matters worse, a videotape in the victim's possession was found to have Tucker's fingerprints on it.
Gold has his work cut out for him. He thinks he can explain away the circumstantial evidence. But in his hunt for answers, he crosses an ethical and legal line in order to bring to light the truth behind his client's case. His escapade brings answers that force him to believe that Tucker just might be innocent. Maybe somebody else wanted the victim dead because she knew too much.
Things get worse when the old judge to hear the trial passes away. The new judge wants to turn things up a notch and allows the prosecution to seek the death penalty. Gold finds himself up teamed with an ambitious young female lawyer who is an expert at death penalty cases. Together they work to get determine if their client is innocent or guilty -- and whether he should be deserving of something as harsh as the death penalty.
Offer of Proof is one of those compelling legal thrillers that won't allow you to take a break. Once you start reading, you are in for an all-nighter. It is tightly written and gripping. I cannot wait to see what else Heilbrun has in store for his readers.