Plea of Insanity - Jilliane Hoffman There is a trend in genre fiction of the flawed hero, a protagonist with a drinking problem, two dead children, three ex-wives, four drug convictions, five ex-girlfriends, etc., the idea being, I guess, that the personal struggles of the detective/main character add something to the book besides bulk.

Personally, I often find these flaws distracting and unnecessary, adding nothing to the plot, but I suffer along because the vividness of the setting or intricacy of the story are appealing. But I always question the relevance of the backstory and often long for the elegance of Simenon, Leon, Christie, etc.

Julia Vacanti is a young ADA in Miami who is assigned the case of David Marquette, a physician who went nuts (term used advisedly) one night and stabbed his family to death. The case then revolves around Vacanti’s own troubled past (she should never, ever, in a million years, been permitted to work this case given what happen with her brother and family) and her concern with the possible inheritability of schizophrenia.

Vacanti’s romance with a lead detective was a bit forced, but the trial scenes were good.