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  • Forbidden relationships are the most tempting. And the most dangerous.

    It was a crime of passion—or so the police say. Valerie Solara has been charged with
    poisoning her best friend. The prosecution claims she’s always been secretly attracted to Amanda’s husband…and with Amanda gone, she planned to make her move.

    Attorney Izzy McNeil left the legal world a year ago, but a friend’s request pulls her into the murder trial. Izzy knows how passion can turn your life upside down. She thought she had it once with her ex-fiancé, Sam. Now she wonders if that’s all she has in common with her criminally gorgeous younger boyfriend, Theo.

    It’s Izzy’s job to present the facts that will exonerate her client—whether or not she’s innocent. But when she suspects Valerie is hiding something, she begins investigating—and uncovers a web of secret passions and dark motives, where seemingly innocent relationships can prove poisonous…

  • “Izzy,” my friend Maggie said, “I need you to try this murder case with me. Now.”
    “What?” I shifted my cell phone to my other ear, not sure I’d heard her right. I had never tried a criminal case before—not even a parking ticket, much less a murder trial.
    “Yeah,” she said. “Right now.”
    It was a hot August Thursday in Chicago, and I had just left the civil courthouse. I had taken three steps into the Daley Center Plaza, looked up at the massive Picasso sculpture—an odd copper thing that looked half bird, half dog—and I actually said to it, “I’m back.”

    I’d argued against a Motion to Dismiss for Maggie. She normally wouldn’t have filed a civil case, but she’d done so as a favor to a relative. I lost the motion, something that would have burned me in days of yore, but instead I was triumphant. Having been out of the law for nearly a year, I’d wondered if I had lost it—lost the ability to argue, to analyze information second-to-second, to change course and make it look like you’d planned it all along. I had worried that perhaps not going to court was like not having sex for a while. At first, you missed it deeply but then it became more difficult to remember what it was like with each passing day. Not that I was having that particular problem. But really, when I’d seen the burning sun glinting off the Picasso and I stated boldly that I was back in action,
    I meant it figuratively. I was riding off the fact that although Maggie’s opponent had won the motion, and the complaint temporarily dismissed, Judge Maddux had said, “Nice argument, counsel” to me, his wise, blue eyes sparkling.

    Judge Maddux had seen every kind of case in his decades of practice and every kind of lawyer. His job involved watching people duke it out, day after day after
    day. For him to say “Nice argument” was a victory. It meant I still had it.

    As I walked through the plaza, the heat curling my red hair into coils, I had called Maggie. She was about to pick a jury at 26th and Cal on a murder case, so her voice was rushed. “Jesus, I’m glad you called,” she said. Normally, Maggie Bristol would not have answered her phone right before the start of a criminal trial, even if she was curious about the motion I’d handled for her. But she knew I was nervous to appear in court—something I used to do with such regularity the experience would have barely registered. She was answering, I thought, to see how I was doing.

    “It went great!” I said.

    I told her then that I was a “lawyer for hire.” Civil or criminal, I said, it didn’t matter. And though I’d only practiced civil before, I was willing to learn anything. Since leaving the legal world a year ago, I’d tried many things—part-time assignments from a private investigator named John Mayburn and being a reporter for Trial TV, a legal network. I liked the TV gig until the lead newscaster, my friend Jane Augustine, was killed and I was suspected in her murder. By the time my name was cleared, I wasn’t interested in the spotlight anymore. So the reporter thing hadn’t worked out, and the work with Mayburn was streaky. Plus, lately it was all surveillance, which was a complete snooze. “I miss the law,” I told Maggie from the plaza. “I want back in.”

    Which was when she spoke those words—I need you to try this murder case with me. Now.

    I glanced up at the Picasso once more, and I knew my world was about to change. Again.

    Reviews

    “Claim of Innocence is guaranteed to claim your weekend, while securing pluckly lawyer heroine Izzy McNeil a place straight at the top of your reading pile.”

    - New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner

    “In the fourth Izzy McNeil legal thriller (after Red, White and Dead), a lawyer friend of Izzy’s, Maggie Bristol, asks the Chicago attorney, who’s been on a year-long leave of absence, to help defend Valerie Solara. Valerie is accused of poisoning her best friend, Amanda Miller, because she was in love with Amanda’s husband, Zavy. When not dealing with courtroom appearances or trial preparation, Izzy is busy with a host of relationship issues, starting with ex-fiancé Sam Hollings and hot young boyfriend Theo. Meanwhile, her father, Christopher McNeil, long thought dead, reappears and re-enters her life, and her mother, Victoria Calloway, is undergoing some strange changes. While Bristol insists that finding the killer isn’t in their purview, Izzy enlists both her father and PI John Mayburn to dig deeper into the murder. Caldwell’s trial scenes, breezy but effective, are key to the unmasking of the real culprit. Izzy’s successful juggling of personal and professional roles should win her more fans.”

    - Publisher’s Weekly

    “The fourth Izzy thriller is an engaging balance between a strong legal thriller and a fascinating relationship family drama. Izzy is the hub of both subplots as she focuses on defending her client while also dealing with the men who want into her life and her mom. Fans will enjoy the first non-“Red” McNeil twisting thriller.”

    - The Mystery Gazette

    “Laura Caldwell’s protagonist Izzy McNeil makes a successful leap from the pages of a trilogy into a mystery series in Claim of Innocence.”

    - Carol Thomas, Mystery Series Examiner

    “Claim of Innocence is a compelling and well-plotted novel. Laura Caldwell engages the reader with interesting subplots, multi-faceted characters, and an intriguing mystery. Unexpected twists and turns bring Claim of Innocence to a surprising and thoroughly satisfying conclusion.”
    – The Reader’s Roundtable

    “This fast-paced mystery inside a mystery will wow fans of John Grisham (The Confession) and Michael Connelly (The Lincoln Lawyer) and will keep them on pins and needles until the very end. Although part of a series, Caldwell’s latest reads well as a stand-alone.”

    - Debbie Haupt, Library Review

    “From start to finish, CLAIM OF INNOCENCE will have readers glued to the pages.”

    - Sandi Shilhanek, Fresh Fiction

    “Forget John Grisham; Laura Caldwell is the real deal.”

    - Lynn F. Maxwell, Mystery Scene

  • “Claim of Innocence is guaranteed to claim your weekend, while securing pluckly lawyer heroine Izzy McNeil a place straight at the top of your reading pile.”

    - New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner

    “In the fourth Izzy McNeil legal thriller (after Red, White and Dead), a lawyer friend of Izzy’s, Maggie Bristol, asks the Chicago attorney, who’s been on a year-long leave of absence, to help defend Valerie Solara. Valerie is accused of poisoning her best friend, Amanda Miller, because she was in love with Amanda’s husband, Zavy. When not dealing with courtroom appearances or trial preparation, Izzy is busy with a host of relationship issues, starting with ex-fiancé Sam Hollings and hot young boyfriend Theo. Meanwhile, her father, Christopher McNeil, long thought dead, reappears and re-enters her life, and her mother, Victoria Calloway, is undergoing some strange changes. While Bristol insists that finding the killer isn’t in their purview, Izzy enlists both her father and PI John Mayburn to dig deeper into the murder. Caldwell’s trial scenes, breezy but effective, are key to the unmasking of the real culprit. Izzy’s successful juggling of personal and professional roles should win her more fans.”

    - Publisher’s Weekly

    “The fourth Izzy thriller is an engaging balance between a strong legal thriller and a fascinating relationship family drama. Izzy is the hub of both subplots as she focuses on defending her client while also dealing with the men who want into her life and her mom. Fans will enjoy the first non-“Red” McNeil twisting thriller.”

    - The Mystery Gazette

    “Laura Caldwell’s protagonist Izzy McNeil makes a successful leap from the pages of a trilogy into a mystery series in Claim of Innocence.”

    - Carol Thomas, Mystery Series Examiner

    “Claim of Innocence is a compelling and well-plotted novel. Laura Caldwell engages the reader with interesting subplots, multi-faceted characters, and an intriguing mystery. Unexpected twists and turns bring Claim of Innocence to a surprising and thoroughly satisfying conclusion.”
    - The Reader’s Roundtable

    “This fast-paced mystery inside a mystery will wow fans of John Grisham (The Confession) and Michael Connelly (The Lincoln Lawyer) and will keep them on pins and needles until the very end. Although part of a series, Caldwell’s latest reads well as a stand-alone.”

    - Debbie Haupt, Library Review

    “From start to finish, CLAIM OF INNOCENCE will have readers glued to the pages.”

    - Sandi Shilhanek, Fresh Fiction

    “Forget John Grisham; Laura Caldwell is the real deal.”

    - Lynn F. Maxwell, Mystery Scene