The Privilege

Joseph Antonelli, who never lost a case he should have won and won nearly every case he should have lost, is about to see his client, Justin Friedrich, convicted for a crime he did not commit. All the evidence points to his guilt. His wife was found shot to death in the bed-room of their yacht in the San Francisco marina. He had fought with her that evening in front of hundreds of people at a New Year’s Eve party at the Fairmont Hotel. No one be-lieved that he had been asleep, passed out, on the sofa in the front cabin and that he had seen only the shadow of the real killer as the killer ran away. Though the murder weapon had not been found, everyone believed it when the prosecution suggested he had simply thrown it into the bay. Friedrich does not have a chance. And then the real killer approaches An-tonelli, tells him that he may be in trouble and may need a lawyer.

Famous and enigmatic, James Michael Redfield, the head of a high tech company that leads the world in the development of artificial intelligence, wants to know make sure that the lawyer-client privilege means that “nothing I tell you can ever be revealed.” When An-tonelli tells him that whatever he tells him he, Antonelli will take to his grave, Redfield gives him the evidence that proves Justin Friedrich did not murder his wife. Friedrich is innocent, and Redfield is guilty. But why, if Redfield does not want Friedrich convicted, did he wait until the last minute, wait until the trial was almost over, wait until the last witness has been called, to give Antonelli what he needed?

Before Antonelli can even begin to solve that riddle, there is another murder, and An-tonelli finds himself a prisoner, an unwilling participant in a conspiracy he does not under-stand. Redfield tells him that he has to take the case, represent a second innocent defendant, because if he does not do it there won’t be any last minute discovery of evidence that will keep an innocent man from Death Row. Antonelli understands enough to know that this second murder, this second trial, will not be the end of it. He will have to keep trying cases as long as Redfield confronts him with the choice of defending an innocent man or letting him be found guilty.

Antonelli, who has tried cases as long as he can remember, thought he had become familiar with every kind of criminal behavior, but never, in his long experience, has he ever known anyone like James Michael Redfield. He understands what Redfield is doing; he does not understand why. Not until he learns that. for Redfield, it isn’t about murder at all; it is all about the trial. Only a trial can show the world what Redfield believes it needs to know.

D.W. Buffa, described by one critic, as “perhaps our greatest writers of contemporary fiction,” has written a novel unlike any you have read, and in James Michael Redfield has created a character you will never forget. What Larry King said of the author’s second nov-el, The Prosecution, can be said with even more emphasis about The Privilege: “You’ll love this book. If you don’t, you’re at the morgue.”