A woman with a checkered past is found murdered, and her ex-husband is the most likely suspect. If the defendant isn't caught in the act, there are three things a prosecutor must provemotive, means, and opportunity. Jerry Kennedy returns from earlier Higgins novels to sift through the evidence. Here is Higgins at the top of his form giving the reader gripping entertainment centered around an ambitious plot and a colorful cast of characters.
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What would be an ordinary case for any other lawyer--the murder of thrice- (or maybe only twice-) married Sandra Nichols- -emerges at the far side of Higgins's looking glass in dazzlingly kaleidoscopic slabs of dialogue. Judge Henry Lawler is convinced that Sandra, whose body was found months after she disappeared, was murdered by her latest ex, the wealthy, idle Peter Wade. And he tells his old classmate Jerry Kennedy, whom he wants to recruit, that it won't be easy to nail him: Chances are that Peter, who's never raised a finger in his life, didn't break his pattern this time, but hired somebody- -probably his old bud Brian Ross, a ``terminal marine'' whose own liaison with Sandra is memorialized in a ``Semper Fi'' tattoo she's wearing in a very private place. With no obvious date for the murder (Peter's prissy lawyer is objecting even to the word murder) and no likely way to place Peter at the scene, a lesser legal avenger would be hamstrung. But Kennedy, that well-known criminal attorney (Penance for Jerry Kennedy, 1985, etc.) who doesn't do civil, has agreed to take the case as a wrongful-death suit on behalf of Sandra's three children. So he doesn't have to prove Peter's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; all he has to do is prove a 51% likelihood of guilt. Tossing off dozens of Higgins's trademark anecdotes along the way about Sandra's abusive father, her spouses (including one casual bigamist), and everyone else who ever knew her, Kennedy eventually confronts his clients: Lucy, who likes to cut herself with a razor (but treats each cut with antiseptic); demurely bulimic Maggie; and Jeffrey, who gets followed from place to place by suspicious fires. The upshot is sad, sordid, unsurprising, and deeply satisfying. Like Swan Boats at Four (1995), this fabulously shaggy narrative may remind bemused newcomers of Achilles endlessly pursuing the tortoise. Fans will know exactly what to expect, and treasure it accordingly. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
George V. Higgins keeps upping the ante. He's proved again and again that he can write novels driven solely by dialogue--not snappy exchanges between people who are engaged in doing something (like the characters in Pulp Fiction, for example) but conversations between individuals reporting on events that have already happened. It's no easy trick to make such reportorial talk compelling, but Higgins has mastered it. Here he goes one step further. He's written a novel in which the lion's share of the "action" comprises lawyer Jerry Kennedy reading the transcripts of a cop's testimony at an inquest. We read over Jerry's shoulder, and suddenly this veteran Boston cop's monologue unlocks a multifaceted family drama about a white-trash woman with guts and dignity who endures a series of bad relationships before parlaying her sexual gusto into marriage with a genuine New England blue blood. Unfortunately, the blue blood is also a lout who eventually chooses to have his wife killed rather than pay off on a prenuptial contract. His alibi is airtight, but Kennedy is enlisted to put together a wrongful-death civil suit (shades of O. J.). The most amazing thing about this novel is that it works at all. It's as if Andre didn't show up for dinner, and his friend simply read the paper while he ate. Face it: Higgins isn't a novelist, he's a magician. Bill Ott
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Book Description Owl Books (NY), 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0805052224
Book Description Owl Books (NY), 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110805052224
Book Description Owl Books (NY), 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0805052224