The Best Defense by Kate Wilhelm
The Best DefenseIt’s been six months since Barbara Holloway’s fiance fell into a raging river. He hasn’t been seen since. She is still grieving for him, but stayed in Oregon rather than running away. Her father didn’t want her to leave again. She is running a street front lawyer’s practice in a small restaurant in a run down neighborhood. The pay wasn’t much, but the satisfaction level is high.
A woman sits down with her and asks her to help with her sister, Paula Kennerman. Barbara’s first thought when she hears the name is “baby killer”. Paula is in jail for killing her small daughter then setting a fire to the safety house where they had been staying, burning the body. But Lucille, Paula’s sister, believes Paula’s innocence despite all the odds. Barbara reluctantly agrees to meet the uncommunicative accused mother.
Eventually Barbara becomes more involved than she planned. She believes there are hidden currents behind the events of that Saturday morning. But can she find out what? The evidence all points to Paula Kennerman. Can Barbara prove reasonable doubt?
I have recently discovered Kate Wilhelm and am still impressed each time I read something new (to me) by her. The Best Defense stays in the impressive realm. This is a detective novel with all the twists that keeps a novel interesting. The relationship between Barbara and her father is well developed and worth following. The events around Paula Kennerman and her daughter’s death are murky. The more Barbara digs the more puzzles arise.