A 911 call by a six-year-old brings police to a house in the upscale Miami neighborhood of Coral Gables, where they find a young mother and three children brutally murdered. The father, Dr. David Marquette, is arrested for the crime, but his high-priced lawyer soon enters a plea of "guilty by reason of insanity," citing a history of schizophrenia that runs in the doctor's family. Assigned to second chair the prosecution is young Assistant State Attorney Julia Vacanti, who harbors a secret and a prejudice that she tells no one--when she was 13, a similar tragedy struck her own family.
In Jilliane Hoffman's capable hands, even the legal process becomes interesting, as she uses flashbacks and multiple points of view to provide differing perspectives on the case and the effects that schizophrenia can have on families. Central to the story is the difficulty of diagnosing the disease: Is Dr. Marquette a victim of mental illness or is he a manipulative psychopath who deserves the death penalty? Julia's work on the case is colored by her own family's history and the plight of her schizophrenic brother, as well as her relationship with the ambitious lead counsel. The resulting combination of psychology and crime makes Plea of Insanity a terrific courtroom drama made absolutely compelling by its subject matter. The book's unsettling ending will haunt readers long after reading.