Rebecca Verona, a Los Angeles attorney with a growing reputation for winning lawsuits involving advanced technology, is handed a career-making case: a prominent Silicon Valley chip manufacturer has been indicted by the US government for making highly advanced superchips and illegally selling them to mainland China.
But there's a catch: two years before, Rebecca had a short-lived but disastrous affair with the president of the company, against whom she has since born an unrelenting hatred. His reasons for wanting her to represent him are characteristically selfish, and not entirely convincing, but Rebecca bows to veiled threats from her managing partner and takes the case. Only after she agrees does she discover the real reason he wants her as his lawyer...
Rebecca Verona, a Los Angeles attorney with a growing reputation for winning lawsuits involving advanced technology, is handed a career-making case: a prominent Silicon Valley chip manufacturer has been indicted by the US government for making highly advanced superchips and illegally selling them to mainland China. But there's a catch: two years before, Rebecca had a short-lived but disastrous affair with the president of the company, James Perrein, against whom she has since born an unrelenting hatred. His reasons for wanting her to represent him are characteristically selfish, and not entirely convincing, but Rebecca bows to veiled threats from her managing partner and takes the case.
Only after she agrees does she discover the real reason Perrein wants her as his lawyer: the US Attorney prosecuting the case, David Zuckerman, is the man Rebecca left when she began the affair with Perrein two years ago. Perrein believes Zuckerman will not pursue the case against him with his customary vigor if Zuckerman's former lover, Rebecca, is the defending attorney.
So now Rebecca finds herself forced to defend a man she despises against a prosecutor she's never really gotten over. Worse still, she hires the most renowned computer chip scientist in the world to be an expert witness for the defense, and, as the trial progresses, she comes to have doubts about his ability to effectively present their side of the story.
Rebecca was a figure-skating prodigy in her younger years, living under the cold and emotionally oppressive dominance of her uncle following the untimely death of her father. Overshadowed by her more talented younger sister, Rebecca's personality was shaped by a continual series of progressively escalating humiliations and rejections. The psychological damage she suffered surfaces periodically in episodes of seemingly self-destructive behavior she is powerless to control. And under the intense pressure of the heady mix of exotic technology, interpersonal confusion and an overwhelming desire to win this case, those pressures threaten to overwhelm her and ruin her blossoming career.
As in all of Lee Gruenfeld's previous works, the psychologies of the characters contain the keys to solving the central puzzle. Rebecca's odyssey to save her case as well as her soul is an intricate blend of science, law and personal discovery that races forward to a stunning and satisfying conclusion that will leave you breathless.
- The New York Times Book Review
As one might expect from a book called "The Expert," it's an adroit performance, with plenty of double-crosses mixed in with the cross-examinations. [T]he characters are deftly presented. Best of all, Gruenfeld keeps the...detailed discussions balanced with the personal motivations of his cast.
- The San Francisco Chronicle
If your eyes have been glazing over at the Clinton administration's attempt to control software encryption exports, ``The Expert'' by Lee Gruenfeld is the timely antidote. Just this week, history was made when Senator Dianne Feinstein brought Bill Gates and other computer moguls into a closed-door meeting with FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno for the first time.
A treasure of a novel awaits: Gruenfeld not only understands the vast complications of encryption law, he also knows how to fascinate. Becky and her assistants (two seasoned legal experts whose brilliant and cynical remarks are often hilarious) find the perfect expert and persuades him to testify, Gruenfeld introduces a few twists that startle and enlighten simultaneously. Come to think of it, Gates and Reno might want to read this book before their next meeting with Feinstein -- it could give them some tips.
- Publishers Weekly
There’s a jungle of technical information awaiting the reader of this wonderfully complex courtroom thriller. Gruenfeld (The Halls of Justice) has written a comic opera of a novel with four main characters who pretend to be objective about each other when, in fact, they are linked by old grudges and attractions. Gruenfeld guides the reader through a maze of facts and motives with skill and daring. The excellent courtroom scenes keep the data clear and understandable, while Gruenfeld builds tension about motives and guilt. Considering the daunting challenges he meets, readers might be excused for thinking that the title of this novel refers to Gruenfeld himself.
- AMAZON.COM (Recommended Book, 04/15/98)
Lee Gruenfeld was a computer scientist before he began writing sharp, successful legal thrillers such as All Fall Down, and both sides of his brain are at work in The Expert. Next time you watch a so-called "expert witness" spouting scientific gospel on the stand, consider the dilemma faced by defense whiz Rebecca Verona, whose expert witness in the case of a computer executive charged with treason seems to be working for the other side. Even if you don't know a computer chip from a potato chip, you'll appreciate the intelligence and excitement of Gruenfeld's story.
-BookReview.com (Harriet Klausner)
Rarely does one read a convoluted and extremely complex novel that turns into a compulsive thriller, requiring a one sitting read. THE EXPERT is filled with believable characters with viable motives for their actions. Best selling author Lee Gruenfeld presents an insidious look at what passes for justice in the real court system, not just a writerÆs imagination.
-Susan Ives (PC Alamode "Computer Crimes")
This excellent novel will appeal to both legal eagles and techno-obsessives. Gruenfeld is the former manager of systems development for a pioneering computer company (which he coyly refuses to name) and has served as an expert witness himself - the details are flawless. The technique of coaching an expert to explain extraordinarily complex scientific principles to a lay jury ensures that the science can be understood. The novel brilliantly covers encryption technology, chip manufacturing and the tension between national security and data privacy. This is one of the best books in the genre and not to be missed.
- The Law Librarian (UK)
A well written courtroom thriller. The characters are developed so well that towards the end of the book [the prosecutor] is competing with [the defense attorney] for that coveted lead character spot. All in all, an extremely good read.
- The Sun (San Bernardino)
Gruenfeld has elevated the art of writing the techno-thriller to the point that readers should be issued oxygen masks. The human characters walk, talk and feel like real people. Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October…is often lauded as the model for the modern techno-thriller. I think Lee Gruenfeld's The Expert is better.
- The Midwest Book Review
Rarely does one read a convoluted and extremely complex novel that turns into a compulsive thriller, requiring a one sitting read. THE EXPERT is filled with believable characters with viable motives for their actions. Best selling author Lee Gruenfeld presents an insidious look at what passes for justice in the real court system, not just a writer’s imagination. - Harriet Klausner
- Booklist (American Library Association)
This extremely engrossing novel is, on the surface, a legal thriller. Beneath the surface, it's an astute appraisal of the role of science in the courtroom. Is it possible (or desirable) for an expert witness to reduce complicated scientific theories to simple yes-and-no propositions? At what point must an expert witness abandon accuracy for easy-to-understand explanations? And--most importantly, at least in this case--can expert witnesses manipulate the truth to suit their own needs? Gruenfeld neither lectures his readers nor condescends to them. A fast-paced, very intelligent read.
- The Mystery Reader Review
Author Lee Gruenfeld has created an intricate web of characters and plot to develop an engrossing story about technology, the law, power, greed and revenge. He uses his own expertise with technology and the law to create an intricate and intriguing tale. The technology discussed in the story is put simply into layman s terms and is quite fascinating, even for the most technophobic. In fact, the dissection of the chip itself is more interesting than your typical mystery post-mortem. The Expert is a well-developed mystery featuring modern communications technology as its center. Whether you love or fear computer chips (and all that they imply), the one featured in this tale runs reliably at high speed.