Double Tap, by Steve Martini, is a murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end of the book as to “Who Done It”. It holds your attention because of the numerous characters introduced that could have been the killers; the deck seems stacked against the main suspect; the showmanship of the dwarf prosecutor and the importance of solving the case.
Madelyn Chapman, the founder and CEO of Isotenics, that is a company that writes software called Information for Security (IFS), is at the top of her profession. She is a striking young lady who looks to be ten years younger than her 43 years. She exits one of her mansions, gets into her $700,000 Ferrari and drives to an art gallery where she purchases a $600,000 crystal sculpture entitled Orb at the Edge. Within minutes of returning home with the sculpture, Madelyn is murdered by two shots to her head and the sculpture disappears.
I’ve seen enough productions of 48 Hours and Dateline to know within the first seven minutes of the television program that the husband was the killer. What? You say that Madelyn was not married? Then her boyfriend or ex-boyfriend must be the culprit! Yes, that’s it, the perfect suspect, Emiliano Ruiz! Ruiz: a career soldier (with a mysterious seven year gap in his military record), an expert marksman who provided security for Madelyn Chapman, knew her schedule, knew the security system in her house was not activated, was accused of stalking Madelyn, had a relationship with her at one time and as part of his security work, slept in a guest bedroom at her mansion. His service pistol, which he left in the bedroom, was used to kill her, was found on the grounds of Madelyn’s mansion after the murder.
For some mysterious reason, Ruiz’ first attorney, Dale Kendal, resigned from the case and attorney Paul Madriani and his team were selected to defend Ruiz. Through their thorough investigation of the case, Paul and his team uncovered many facts that could place the blame of Madelyn’s death on others. However, the prosecutor, Larry Templeton, a dwarf graduate of Harvard proves to be one tough opponent. Larry was always given the crumby cases at his law firm until one time the majority of the firms attorneys were unavailable because of the flu. At that time his firm began hiring attorneys right out of law school. Larry was the last in line as cases were reassigned to the new attorneys. He was handed a difficult murder case which no one had any hope of winning against the very wealthy defendant. Larry, through his dramatics/antics with the jury and his brilliant legal mind not only won that case but 16 straight murder cases since then.
The list of possible suspects included: several other members of the Isotenics firm, someone from the security firm that Ruiz worked for, politicians, someone in the Pentagon, the Department of Defense and Ruiz. How would Paul Madriani and his team thread the needle to sew all the pieces of the case together to find out the motive for the killing of Madelyn Chapman and the murderer? Two major factors played a huge part: the outcome of the trial and a little tiny lie that was ill-timed. Take the ride with Paul Madriani and find out all the answers!
As an added enticement to read this book, if you are not a firearm expert, you will learn what a double tap is and the difference between a solid bullet and a frangible round. Finally, I liked Double Tap because even though it was written in 2005, it unfortunately mirrors events that are happening today.
Jeff Hall, of Honey Brook, contributes book reviews to Tri County Record.