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Undertow by Sydney Bauer
From the Dustjacket
Following an alleged conversation between respected attorney Rayna Martin andteenager Christina Haynes during a boating trip at Cape Ann, Massachusetts, one of them is dead, the other arrested for murder.
Boston lawyer David Cavanaugh faces his toughest case to date when what appears to be a tragic but blameless accident turns into something else entirely.
With the victim's father one of the most powerful politicians in the US Senate and the Assistant District Attorney prepared to put his personal ambition ahead of legal justice, David finds that his most dangerous battle is taking place outside the court room.
Lies, deception, blackmail, threats...and finally the precision of an assassin's bullet combine to create a shocking finale in this exciting first novel from Australian author Sydney Bauer.
Publisher : Macmillan Australia
First published : 2006
ISBN : 1405037113
No. Pages : 425 pages
Undertow is the debut novel of Sydney-based author Sydney Bauer and what a stunning legal thriller it is taking what looks like a seemingly tragic accident and turning it into the catalyst for a bitter fight based on racial grounds. From the opening page to the last it is a deeply involving story that represents the epitome of the good little guy versus the bad big guy.
When a boating accident ends in tragedy one girl is left dead, her 3 friends traumatised and the woman who has looking after them in jail charged with murder. Rayna Martin had taken her daughter out on the harbour for a cruise to celebrate her 16th birthday but a capsized boat was the beginning of a terrible nightmare.
Senator Rudolph Haynes got to where he is today by setting ambitious goals and then not letting anyone stand in his way as he walked over people to attain them. He's a man with power and a man who will use that power in any way necessary to get what he wants. When he learns of his daughter's death his first thought is for revenge. Fuelled by a deep-seated hatred of blacks, long hidden under a carefully constructed veneer of political correctness, Haynes embarks on a single-minded mission to carry out that revenge on Rayna Martin.
But Haynes isn't prepared to stop there. Using the services of Vincent Verne, a former secret service agent turned devoted servant, he concocts a series of diversions aimed at affecting witnesses and the family members of the defence team, all in a bid to disrupt their preparation. When Haynes wants something, he generally stops at nothing to achieve it and David Cavanaugh would do well to remember that.
Adding significant spice to the case is a spiteful rivalry between Cavanaugh and the very smarmy figure that is the Assistant District Attorney Roger Katz. He and Cavanaugh have a history as antagonists with Katz's win-at-any-cost attitude and willingness to bow to Haynes' every command putting him in the hated rival category.
On the surface the case appears straightforward, accidental death by drowning. But this is a story that demonstrates the ease with which power is misused as well as the insidious bigotry that still dwells deeply within the core of some people.
The pace is frenetic after an early trial date is agreed upon putting Cavanaugh and his team under enormous pressure to prepare their defence. But the effect is a riveting battle to collect enough relevant evidence and indeed, to follow through on a growing number of theories, all the while the spectre of Haynes looms over them and, although they can't prove anything, his subtle efforts to hamper their cause is felt.
Assisting Cavanaugh in preparing his case is the beautiful Sara Davis, a young attorney who works with Rayna at the African-American Community Service Agency of Massachusetts (AACSAM). Her appearance screams "designated love interest" for David Cavanaugh and while we're not disappointed by the direction their friendship takes, it does hold the mantle as the only predictable plotline in the story. Nevertheless, she makes a strong character and proves to play a vital