Lara Jessup was Vinny's second wife. She had met him when he was in the hospital with cancer. When he recovered, he told her he had fallen in love with her hands, then all of her. Despite the large difference in their ages (he had children older than her), she agreed. She had fallen in love with him too. She and her son Nathan are very happy with Vinny. But Vinny's past still haunted him.
His youngest son had been accused of murder, then disappeared before trial. After his disappearance, Vinny's first wife became very ill, then died. He blamed one man all this time. Now McReady is in line to be a judge on the Supreme Court. Vinny leaves one night to take some "important" papers to McReady. He never comes home.
The next morning Vinny is found in his car, an apparent suicide. But then the police discover the man was shot. The county in eastern Oregon where the Jessups live is "owned" by the Lynch family. McReady married the only child, Babe, who is happiest on the family ranch. He prefers the city and was visitng the country when Vinny died. All the Lynch family swear that McReady never left the house. It soon appears that Lara could be charged with obstructing justice by making a suicide appear to be murder or charged with murder.
Knowing something could happen to him, Vinny left instructions with his friend and lawyer Manny to contact Frank Holloway. Frank receives all of Vinny's papers about McReady. He pulls in his daughter, Barbara. They try to find what Vinny has on McReady after 17 years. When Lara is threatened with arrest, Barbara takes her on as a client.
Now Barbara Holloway has to prove that Lara neither killed her husband nor covered up his suicide. The law in the county is conservative or friends of the Lynch family. Lara is the outsider, the young bride who is distrusted by most of the residents of the small community. Plus, she lies in her testamony about where she was the night Vinny died. Barbara knows it's going to be extremely difficult to exonerate Lara but believes the woman's story. Barbara just has to keep digging.
No Defense is as riveting as all the earlier Barbara Holloway novels I have read. Kate Wilhelm's tone for Barbara makes her a strong, independent woman who can't always understand people. Yet she donates much of her lawyer time, has strong beliefs and opinions, and has firm convictions. She is a compelling character.
The mystery is devised to keep the reader guessing. No Defense twists and turns, using the environment as much as the action to set up the story and keep the reader guessing. Although no one is in physical danger, the novel remains tight and tense. This is good reading.
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