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When his in-laws are charged with the murders of their close friends, a married couple in their late sixties, Dennis Conway, a former New York criminal attorney takes the case, only to discover that the entire town of Springhill, Colorado, is banding together to keep him from uncovering the truth. 50,000 first printing.
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A lumpy legal fantasy from an author more at home when he sticks to the courtroom (Final Argument, 1993, etc.). After a whirlwind courtship, New York trial lawyer Dennis Conway gives up the rat race for the ardent embraces of Sophie Henderson, mayor of stratospheric Springhill, Colorado. Life is slower, the air is purer, the skiing is great, even if the natives sometimes lapse into the solipsistic patois of Springhill and the Conway children's beloved dog disappears without a trace one day. Then, out of the blue, Dennis's in-laws are arrested for murder. Bibsy Henderson's pillbox, filled with nitroglycerin and other telltale medications, is found on the scene of a killing- by-lethal-injection way up in the hills--the double execution of old Henry and Susan Lovell (their dog has been killed too by a well-placed arrow)--and in an unguarded moment when Dennis isn't present to caution her, Bibsy breaks down and blurts out something very like a confession to her husband and codefendant. So it's off to court, and the scenes fans of usually reliable trial veteran Irving will have been waiting for. But this time the courtroom proceedings fizzle: Both sides, unable to produce rabbits from their threadbare hats, merely recap familiar ground, and the obligatory bickering between Dennis and deputy D.A. Ray Boyd doesn't have any resonance. The only surprise comes when the trial trails off so soon, leaving in its wake a predictable verdict and 70 pages more to fill. The overextended epilogue--an earth-shattering revelation from Sophie that alert readers will have foreseen by the end of chapter four, and a melodramatic, get-out-of-Dodge finale that pits Dennis against the elements and the suspiciously conspiratorial residents of Springhill--feels like a last-minute rewrite by a demented script doctor. Perry Mason meets Lost Horizon. In this case, the horizon, like Shangri-la itself, should have stayed lost. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
A simple, fabled premise?the existence of a Fountain of Youth?supports this modest suspenser from Clifford (Final Argument). The age-conquering waters here flow in a spring located thousands of feet above Aspen, Colo., their existence known only by the several hundred denizens of the town of Springhill. To avoid arousing the suspicion of outsiders, the townsfolk have entered into a pact to die voluntarily at the age of 100. The plot, which revolves around a murder trial arising from the discovery of the bodies of two of the Springfield dead, lays bare the inevitable kinks in so apparently practical and civilized a social contract. The intensely rural setting, reminiscent of that of The Shining or Deliverance, helps to cultivate a low-level tension, as do small but disturbing incidents like the disappearance of a cat or an anecdote about a woman's decapitation by avalanche. More melodramatic frights erupt at appropriate intervals. Irving drives his narrative from the fantastic to the realistic and back again, playing a game that's sure and steady?but one that's safe as well. Fans of risks in horror or suspense won't find them here.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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