Judith D Collins
The Price of Justice
By Marti Green
Series: Innocent Prisoners Project
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Pulication Date: 7/21/2015
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Seven years ago, Winston Melton was on top of the world: a privileged kid fresh off his first semester at Princeton. Life was perfect—until he was accused of the rape and murder of an ex-girlfriend.
Years after his conviction, another death-row inmate has come forward with an eleventh-hour confession, casting Win’s conviction in a new light. But with the ink drying on his death sentence, time is running short.
Win’s grandmother, the family matriarch, has her eyes set on one of the Help Innocent Prisoners Project’s defense lawyers: Dani Trumball, and her reputation for results, no matter the cost. Dani, concerned she is being bought, initially refuses but eventually takes the case.
Soon, Dani can sense that something’s off, both with Win’s conviction and the new confession. But seven years after the incident, is there still a chance of uncovering the truth?
About the Author
Marti’s enjoyment of mystery books began as a child, when she first discovered the Bobbsey Twins series before moving on to Nancy Drew. As she grew, her reading tastes became more eclectic, but once she read Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, she was hooked on legal thrillers. John Grisham’s The Firm sealed the deal for her and she now seeks out legal thriller writers like Michael Connolly, John Lescroart and Phillip Margolin. Although she loves the tales told by those writers, there seemed to be missing from the literature a hard-working woman attorney, torn – as are so many women – between her commitment to her job and to her family. And so she created Dani Trumball – an Ivy League trained lawyer devoted both to seeking justice for the wrongly convicted and to her husband and son.
Marti’s inspiration for writing about innocence stems from her experience counseling drug users who had pending criminal cases. She discovered that if the defendant continued to maintain his innocence after conviction, he would be deemed unrepentant and get a harsher sentence. Once a jury voted to convict, the defendant was considered guilty regardless of the truth. That exposure to the court system prompted an interest in the law, and she entered Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the law review.
Marti now lives in central Florida with her husband and her Siberian cat, Howie. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, jogging and golf. She heads back to New York regularly to visit her two sons and their wives, and her five beautiful grandchildren. Website Twitter
A special thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Marti Green returns with popular Help Innocent Prisoners Project, (HIPP) with her third and most riveting installment in the series--THE PRICE OF JUSTICE, when justice comes with a hefty price; sacrifices made, and a race against time with an execution countdown, in this complex multi-layered suspense legal crime thriller. Having read the two other books in the series, was so excited to discover what case Dani Trumball, and the HIPP team in New York would be involved in this time around. This is the most complex case yet, which will keep you on the edge of your seat guessing, as to the identity of the real killer. This request for legal representation is quite different than their normal cases at HIPP. Since the organization is a non-profit, helping innocent prisoners, normally their clients have no other financial means for legal counsel. Their mission is to help free as many innocent men and women as they can. However, without funds they will have to let go of staff and that will dramatically reduce the number of people they can help. When Amelia Melton, one of the richest and most power grandmother, matriarch comes flying in their humble office, the elderly woman wants Dani to save her grandson, who is serving on death row and days from execution. She can afford the best attorneys money can buy. However, she has long given up on them, and aware HIPP operates on donations. Her proposal is for Dani to take her grandson, Winston’s case and she will donate $500,000 to the organization. Win it, and she will donate an additional $500,000, plus expenses. She wants an answer in two days, as there is no time to spare. Ms. Melton is doing the bidding, and taking control. The parents fell apart when their son was first arrested, and they believe in him; however, they are worn down. It is up to the grandmother to take charge of his future. Dani's first reaction is to say no; however, there are many innocent impoverished men and women they can help with this money. Bruce and the board agree, they have to help. However, first Dani wants to visit Winston, and ensure he is really innocent. That is all they need, to help a guilty man go free, no matter who his family is. Of course, with state and federal budget cuts, grants, and contributions which have recently been cut in half and the economy, organizations such as theirs are suffering. The attorneys handling the original rape case, say Winston was an arrogant, cocky rich kid and the judges and system wanted to make an example of this family. How would it look if the courts showed favoritism to a rich and connected family? The Meltons are wealthy with a home in Manhattan, and a winter home in Palm Beach. The rape occurred years ago with a high school student and the body was found behind Palm Beach High School. Melton at the time was a freshman at Princeton University and was at his family’s home visiting for semester break. He girl had been raped and killed and the cause of death was strangulation. No DNA was recovered from her body, but a strand of hair identified as belonging to the defendant was discovered near the body. They had dated prior to this and he had broken off the relationship prior to college. When they visit Winston in prison, he appears to be innocent and very humble. His grandmother will stop at nothing to free her grandson. Then only days before another execution of a criminal, another death row prisoner confesses to the rape. He knows too many details. But why is he confessing now? Has the grandmother paid someone to take the fall, which will be executed in a few days regardless? They have to find out if this guy’s family has received any large sums of money? Was the other guy the real killer, and if not, who is the real killer? He could still be out there? In the meantime, could Winston really be guilty and fooling everyone? Dani and her team will need to work quickly, as the death warrant has already been signed, HIPP has less than six months to try and clear him. Their whole purpose is representing inmates they believe have been unfairly convicted. They do not take cases unless they believe the person isn’t guilty. Unlike other attorneys it is not always of importance. Of course someone else confessed, but what if they investigate and he didn't do it? Does the board expect them to represent him, anyway? What about double jeopardy for Winston--if he gets free, he cannot be tried again for the same crime? Not only do they have to try and reverse the decision, they also have to begin their own investigation to clear their own suspicions, and look at anyone else who may be connected to the crime. From Winston’s friends, ex-girlfriends, and the victim’s friends, from back seven years earlier. The suspense builds, when you suspect the grandmother buying off everyone, then is Winston really innocent, what about the person who confessed—how did he know details? Then there is another big twist which will leave your head spinning until it comes down to the wire. Love Florida authors, and really enjoy them if they write legal thrillers. Green does an excellent job, with her legal facts, practicing attorney and residing in Central Florida. The interesting twist was the obstacle with Florida law. It’s the only state in which only seven of twelve jurors need to agree to impose the death penalty, instead of unanimous. In summary, thanks Marti, for featuring Palm Beach County, my home for the last eight years! As always, another terrific suspense in this awesome series. Love the characters, and always a different case with new twists. Cannot wait to see what is next in the series. Keep them coming! A huge fan of legal series, and even more so when combined with the personal lives, strong women, and those who enjoy helping those in need. Each can be read as a standalone; however, would recommend reading them all!
Unintended Consequences #1 Presumption of Guilt #2 If you enjoy this type of legal suspense crime thriller—helping the underdog and the innocent; also highly recommend, Sylvie Fox's A Casey Cort Series. The author is a former trial attorney, and she is full of wit! Both these series are top notch, and feature some strong intelligent women attorneys, fighting for justice to defend the less fortunate. Qualified Immunity #1 Under Color of Law #2 Review Links: