Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Title Page

Fiction

August 23, 1987|Mark Schorr

NO LESSER PLEA by Robert Tanenbaum (Watts: $16.95; 316 pp.). Mendeville Louis is a sociopath who has gotten away with a string of brutal armed robberies. Killing, for him, is as difficult as changing a suit. Through a series of mistakes by his accomplices--Louis' only flaw seems to be trusting dimwits--Louis winds up in court. He's about to slip out from under the creaking wheels of justice when Asst. Dist. Atty. Roger (Butch) Karp gets the case.

The novel follows Karp through office high jinks that would make Joseph Wambaugh's choirboys envious. It simultaneously shows his rise in the district attorney's office, and a developing romance. But the main plot involves the struggle between Louis, trying to beat the system with an insanity defense, and Karp, trying to make the system work.

Tanenbaum has a wry, street- wise wit. Describing the complaint room, he writes, "The rest of the crowd reflected the city's population--all races, the two major sexes, several of the minor ones, and most social classes were represented, united for once in boredom and irritation."

The author clearly has a strong law-and-order bias, which makes for heavy-handed characterization of the villains and snide cynicism when it comes to describing the legal system. His black dialect may seem racist to some.

But for a no-nonsense insider's view of the courthouse--Tanenbaum is a former New York prosecutor--and a fast-moving tale of crime and punishment, "No Lesser Plea" is highly recommended.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|