Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lisa Black, author of the Theresa MacLean mysteries, is my guest today. She's uniquely qualifed to write these books and, according to Tess Gerritsen, "She is, quite simply, one of the best storytellers around."
Defensive Wounds grew out of the unique and usually frustrating relationship between cops and attorneys. Even though I’m not a cop—I’m a forensic specialist—the same factors apply. From watching Law and Order you would think they we’re the best of friends, that attorneys are always treating us to lunch at fancy restaurants—hah! Not even McDonald’s. We function in different worlds. We function with different mindsets. I look at the situation and think, what can I learn from this evidence? A cop thinks, what convinces me that this suspect is the guy who did it? A lawyer thinks, how can I convince the jury that this is what happened? It sounds like all those processes should work together, and ideally they should. But even when they do, that does not mean we all get along like the Bobbsey Twins.
Defense attorneys especially are usually in the position of needing to make me look like an idiot. Even if I don’t have anything to present that implicates their client, they need to make the entire police department look utterly incompetent and unfortunately that includes me. They can ask umpteen million questions about minor point of procedure and I’m not allowed to say: do you realize this has absolutely nothing to do with whether your client did it or not so you’ve just wasted twenty minutes of the jury’s time? I’m not allowed to do anything but answer questions. But make no mistake about it, no matter what side of the courtroom an attorney stands on, if you are saying something that helps their case, they like you. You’re a good guy. If you’re saying something that doesn’t help their case, you’re an idiot who needs to be dealt with. This is the adversarial system of law and it’s a good one. But when it’s you in the witness box, it’s not a comfortable one, and that’s what I tried to bring out in Defensive Wounds.
The book begins with a murder at a defense attorney convention in the beautiful Ritz-Carlton hotel located in Cleveland’s most recognizable landmark—the Terminal Tower, with its 700 foot high observation deck.
Theresa’s daughter Rachael is out of college for the summer and working there at the front desk, in fact she’s the first to alert Theresa to the homicide. This little coincidence begins to complicate Theresa’s life as she realizes that her daughter is falling for a handsome coworker—and then finds out how this boy once stood trial for a brutal crime. In fact, the first victim had been his attorney. But the attorney also had a host of enemies, many of whom are also attending this convention.
Theresa has the walls closing in from every direction—she is trying to work under the scrutiny of people who will use everything she says or does against her in the court of law, if possible. Her crime scene is a hotel, littered with the microscopic debris of past guests that may or may not be relevant to the murder. Her daughter might be falling under the sway of a very dangerous man.
And the killer is not yet finished.

Lisa Black’s fourth book, Defensive Wounds, was released by Harper Collins on September 27. Forensic scientist Theresa MacLean battles a serial killer operating at an attorney’s convention. Lisa is a full time latent print examiner and CSI for a police department in Florida

Visit Lisa at her blog or website for more information.


bj said...

Great explanation of roles of cops, attorneys and forensic specialists. If Gerritsen says great storyteller you are my next must-read.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I especially like to read crime novels by writers who know the real deal. I think what you say about cops and attorneys is very true. My older son is a criminal defense attorney. He's helping me with my mystery novels. I certainly want to read your books!

Ellis Vidler said...

Lisa, I found your take on attorneys interesting. Also how it feels to be in the witness box. I'm really looking forward to your book. I'm sure I'll learn from it as well as be entertained.

jenny milchman said...

The inside workings of the different professions is fascinating--thanks for sharing this glimpse. It reminds me of some of what I heard Alafair Burke talk about at a recent reading.

I will look for your book. You can't beat a blurb from Tess!

Lisa Black said...

Thanks for tuning in!

Capri Smith said...

I just got a book entitled CSI Effect. I was hoping it would address just that issue - when I have been in courts with my clients I know that I am always someones princess and someones dragon. No fun. Thanks for the info!

auntiemwrites said...

Lisa, great to watch your tour! And wonderful blurb from Tess G~

Ellis Vidler said...

Lisa, thanks so much for posting here. Your book sounds good, and I'm delighted to find a new author to read.
Anyone seeing this should check out Lisa's guest blog on
She tells how to make a book trailer.

Star said...

Very interesting. I'm sure she brings her skills to the forefront.