It begins with an innocent enough conversation. Arthur Morrison, lawyer extraordinaire, has been invited on a yacht by Nelson St. James and his beautiful wife for the weekend. A strange thing happens when Danielle, St, James’s wife kisses him and wonders why he doesn’t remember her. It’s only after a visit with an old friend from college, Terry Larson, an ex-prosecutor in Los Angeles, who had been investigating St. James, that Terry tells him Danielle is actually Janine Llewelyn, the little sister of a girl Morrison had wanted to marry, but who had turned down his proposal (much to her later consternation.)
Terry had left the US Attorney’s office in frustration. He had been building a case against St. James. He had evidence that the manipulative billionaire had swindled many people. He was sure St. James was soon to be indicted and urged Morrison not to take his case if asked. Sure enough the indictment is handed up, but St. James disappears on his boat. Then, several months later the boat arrives in San Francisco. St. James is dead, murdered by his wife the cops insist, and Danielle wants Morrison to defend her against the murder charge.
The charges are all based on circumstantial evidence. The body had gone overboard, the gun had the prints of both husband and wife, no one saw the killing, and Morrison did a wonderful job of planting all sorts of doubt in the minds of the jurors. Even the monetary motive disappeared when Morrison got St. James’s attorney to reveal the will had been changed so that if he died his wife would get nothing, whereas if he divorced her, the prenuptial would have left her comfortable indeed. He rests the defense but then Danielle drops a bombshell. She has told Morrison over and over that she had indeed killed her husband and now she insists, against his counsel, she wants to testify. “I know what I’m doing,” she says.
Buffa has written a fine tale that draws you in. Just remember the title is in the plural.