The Saberdene Variations
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A powerful lawyer’s most famous opponent comes back to kill him
On his first day at Harvard, working-class student Charlie Nichols is instantly charmed by the debonair rake Victor Saberdene. While Nichols earns tuition playing football, Saberdene’s wealth and charm rocket him to the top of Harvard’s impenetrable social pyramid and beyond—to become the most feared defense lawyer in the country, a man who uses his charisma to manipulate juries. Nichols becomes an international crime reporter. He hasn’t thought of his old friend Saberdene in years when he reads of the Anna Thorne killing. A beautiful young Massachusetts stagehand disappears after a fling with the handsome, dangerous Carl Varada—who might have escaped had Anna not been Saberdene’s sister-in-law. Saberdene puts Varada behind bars, but years later the killer earns early release. When Varada sets his sights on the great lawyer’s family, no amount of charisma can stop him.
“A powerful story.” —Newsday
Thomas Gifford (1937–2000) was a bestselling author of thriller novels. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, he moved to Minnesota after graduating from Harvard. After eight years as a traveling textbook salesman, he wrote Benchwarmer Bob (1974), a biography of Minnesota Vikings defensive end Bob Lurtsema. The Wind Chill Factor (1975), a novel about dark dealings among ex-Nazis, introduced John Cooper, a character Gifford would revisit in The First Sacrifice (1994). The Wind Chill Factor was one of several books Gifford set in and around Minneapolis. Gifford won an Edgar Award nomination for The Cavanaugh Quest (1976). The Glendower Legacy (1978), a story about an academic who discovers that George Washington may have been a British spy, was adapted for the film Dirty Tricks (1981), starring Elliott Gould. In the 1980s Gifford wrote suspense novels under the pen names Thomas Maxwell and Dana Clarins. In 1996 he moved back to Dubuque to renovate his childhood home. He died of cancer in 2000.