March 31, 2003 12:00 PM

By Phillip Margolin

What if the judges, senators, detectives, politicians and all the other apparently upright citizens of Anywhere, U.S.A., were all secretly scuzz-balls up to no good? That’s the paranoid premise of this mesmerizing and bloody whodunit.

Tim Kerrigan, your ail-American hero (with the Heisman Trophy to prove it), is on the cusp of big things as a top prosecutor in the D.A.’s office. But after a hooker turns up dead and the prime suspect, a Republican presidential candidate, also gets bashed to death, everyone Kerrigan thought he knew turns out to be hip-deep in corruption and tied to a mysterious club—except maybe vulnerable young defense lawyer Amanda Jaffe. Meanwhile the body bags begin to pile up as entire families commit suicide or are wiped out in car wrecks and suspicious fires.

With its secret tapes, bribes, blackmail, sins of the past and beautiful plot twists, Ties will have readers plunging into chapter after chapter. (HarperCollins, $25.95)

BOTTOM LINE: It’ll rope you in

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