February 28, 2008 [Advance Order Now]

book cover

They meet again--the altar boys--but now one is the Bishop, another is a lawyer who will do anything to defend his faith, and the third is J.J. Rai, one of the best lawyers in America, who no longer believes.

J.J. has often dreamed of his ultimate case: suing God. When the parents of two altar boys are mysteriously directed to his office, he finds himself taking on the Catholic Church instead. Can he sue God, too, and claim the Church is merely His agent, he wonders?

But Rai is pitted against Roland Dougherty, known as "The Cardinal" in the legal community for his defense of the Church. And things are not as they appear. Unbeknownst to J.J., he has been studied, perhaps manipulated, by a beautiful woman sitting in the shadows of the courtroom.

With his acerbic law student daughter looking on, J.J. chafes under the watchful eye of a stern judge as his case unravels, his psychological expert is undone, he is confronted with evidence of False Memory Syndrome, and the boys' parents turn against him. Then comes the death--with a body dangling from the tower of the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin--that rocks the Sacramento community and his case.

When the suspected priest escapes to Mexico, J.J. asks his friend, Andy Miller--a disbarred lawyer and sometimes investigator--to find him. But Andy is engaged in his own quest for justice. Enraged about the prosecution of Martha Stewart over "chump change," Andy spends much of his time, when sober, driving around Houston, in a rental car with a high powered rifle, stalking Enron's Ken Lay, who later dies "allegedly" of a massive heart attack.

The Altar Boys is a powerful legal and psychological courtroom drama that raises questions of religion and faith, played out against the backdrop of the hilarious antics of a crazy investigator, the manipulation of media in big-time litigation, a developing romance, and the unfailing love of a father for his daughter.


"Audacious, brilliant, and endlessly entertaining, John M. Poswall's The Altar Boys is a flat-out masterpiece. As suspenseful as Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent, with the veracity of Jonathan Harris's A Civil Action, sure to be as controversial as Sam Harris's The End of Faith (and for many of the same reasons) this book sets the new gold standard for courtroom drama. With one stroke, Poswall places himself squarely at home among the masters of the genre. If I were Robert M. Parker and The Altar Boys a fine wine, I'd give it a score of 100 points. Not to be missed."

John Lescroart, New York Times best selling author of legal thrillers

"In Altar Boys, John Poswall has written a poignant and timely tale about deceit and corruption in the Catholic Church .... With finely-drawn characters and a well-developed ear for dialogue, Poswall takes us on a fast-paced, behind-the-scenes look at big-time, high-stakes litigation. J.J. Rai is a character worth rooting for. John Poswall is a new and compelling voice in a crowded field. Highly recommended."

Sheldon Siegel, New York Times best selling author of legal thrillers

"John Poswall has written a refreshingly original, alarmingly topical, and thoroughly readable book. The Altar Boys is a fascinating legal suspense novel by one of America's top trial lawyers who has an authoritative grasp on his subject matter. On top of that, he can really write! This is a page-turner, a slam-dunk winner."

John Martel, New York Times and SF Chronicle best selling author of legal thrillers

"The Altar Boys is right out of the headlines; indeed, a startling look behind the headlines by an author who has been there."

Stan Atkinson, Northern California news anchor

"I loved The Lawyers. This book, Altar Boys, captured my attention to the point that I would take it into the bath tub with me. A real page turner....I am now anxiously awaiting its publication and to see The Altar Boys on the New York Times bestseller list."

Russ Solomon, Founder, Tower Records, Videos and Books

"Poswall's first book was very good; this new one is magnificent. Being a reader of the crime/thriller genre, I was assuming it would be just another one of the ilk. The book is so terrific that I put aside all other duties and books to finish it as fast as possible although, nearing the end, I was so sad it would be over soon. John captures all of the nuances of the genre and brings to it pieces that only a top trial attorney could."

"Between the excellent writing, the seriousness of the subject matter and the timeliness, this book is sure to hit the top."

Vicki Loreni, Marketing Manager, Borders Books, Central and Northern California

"As a New Hampshire State Representative, I had the honor and duty to sponsor legislation representing abuse victims. In doing so, I became very familiar with the interpersonal dynamics of abuse and power and how they played out in the legal system. I found Poswall's unfolding depiction of how this overwhelms a family credible and mesmerizing."

"I read The Altar Boys many months ago, and the characters and suspense continues with me. In my association with the Stanford Professional Publishing Courses, I have had the opportunity to read advance copies of many novels. Rarely has one had such staying power."

Catherine O'Brien, former New Hampshire State Representative and current Director of Video Productions at Stanford University