Third, and weakest, in a legal procedural whodunit series featuring Lake Tahoe attorney Nina Reilly from the O'Shaughnessy sisters writing team. Taking up a few days after Invasion of Privacy (1996) ended, Reilly accompanies rugged but haunted prosecutor Collier Hallowell for what the two hope will be a romantic trek to the top of Mount Tallac, only to fall in with the dysfunctional de Beers family, whose presence on the mountain seems anything but recreational. A storm brews, and Hallowell and Reilly witness nasty Raymond de Beers, the president of a well-known but shoddy Lake Tahoe construction company, blown off the peak into their path and killed, seemingly by a bolt of lightning. After the unsatisfying inquest, which raises more questions than answers, Reilly recommends that Hallowell, who suspects foul play, hire her former lover p.i. Paul Von Wagoner to find whatever clues about the killing the Tahoe police could not. Meanwhile, Reilly is approached by domineering family patriarch Quentin de Beers, who also thinks that Raymond was somehow murdered. Reilly begins to believe that Raymond's death may be linked to the hit-and-run murder of a local woman. But the O'Shaughnessy team forces that intersection very awkwardly, compelling their disbelieving characters to lecture each other on Jungian synchronicities, the relationship between reality and art, and cosmic parallels to Greek myths. Before the mystery can be solved, others will die, and Reilly and the increasingly obsessed Hallowell will find themselves on opposite sides. The novel falls apart, like one of the badly constructed de Beers houses, in a cliff-hanging climax in which all the apparent bad guys are revealed to be good, and a method is offered that, in theory, would make lightning a murder weapon capable of striking the same place more than once. Forced, unconvincing characters and vastly overheated plotting, with some sharp, if predictable, courtroom scenes and an impressive knowledge of forensic pathology.
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