Maddy's Reviews > Star Witness

Star Witness by D.W. Buffa
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's review
Sep 02, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: 2003-reads
Read in April, 2003

RATING: 3.75

This fifth book in the series finds Joseph Antonelli defending Stanley Roth, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, who has been accused of murdering his movie star wife, Mary Margaret Flanders (nee Marian Walsh). There were only 3 people at their home when Mary Margaret was killed: Mary Margaret, Stanley and a maid. The security system had not been breached. When the police find Mary Margaret's blood on some clothing in Stanley's laundry hamper, he is charged with murder.

Antonelli has a reputation for being a lawyer who rarely loses. Roth calls upon him immediately; but strangely, he seems rather disinterested in his own defense. Instead, he is consumed by the details of a movie called Blue Zephyr (which is also the name of his studio) that he has written and is planning to film. The movie is really 2 things: an homage to Orson Welles' Citizen Kane as well as a fictionalized account of Stanley and Mary Margaret's life together, including an accounting of who killed her. If the movie makes Stanley look bad, so be it—the making of a great movie means more to him than the unraveling of his entire life.

Stanley's situation is threatening the future of the studio, and the partner who is the main financial backer is ready to pull out. There is a scene where Stanley almost kills him with a wine bottle. Although not a violent man, Stanley has lost control of his temper before, most noticeably when he hit his wife and gave her a black eye after she had an abortion. Antonelli uses all of these events in a very unique way in his defense of Stanley, and the trial is wonderfully portrayed in these pages. It's not the usual defense to bring up Roth's lack of concern about his wife's affairs, the fact that he hit her, the fact that he attacked his partner. It appears that this risky strategy just may backfire.

Buffa has done an exceptional job in creating the character of Stanley Roth. He is a very unique individual, and it is fascinating to see how he turns everything that happens into a movie-related event. The man is a sheer genius with incredible talent. He steals the book from Antonelli. The conversations between the two men are intriguing. In an interesting twist, Blue Zephyr is eventually filmed, and Antonelli is portrayed by an actor who was part of the trial.

Buffa has a unique writing style. As he is presenting the narrative, he also threads in some thought-provoking questions about the nature of fame and desire and obsession that apply to Antonelli just as much as they apply to Roth.

Based on the strength of STAR WITNESS, I plan to seek out the other books in this series.

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