Another ""historical novel of murder"" from the author of The Thomas Street Horror (1982) and The Tragedy of Tiverton...



Another ""historical novel of murder"" from the author of The Thomas Street Horror (1982) and The Tragedy of Tiverton (1983)--again featuring mid-19th-century Manhattan lawyer Quinncannon, again narrated by a young Quinncannon protÉgÉ, again offering too much motley padding and too little richness of historical-crime atmosphere (despite a fact-based plot). Toby Brendon, an orphan from Virginia, arrives in N.Y. to begin a law career--and to learn, if possible, the identity of his natural father. Assigned to represent Mrs. Demis Hubbard in a divorce suit, handsome Brendon is instantly smitten--and Instantly jealous of Denis' cousin, dentist Harvey Burdell, whose attentions to Demis are more than cousinly. And Dr. Burdell invites Demis to take up residence on Broad St.--even though the household already contains the volatile Mrs. Emma Cunningham, a buxom widow who may be the dentist's longtime mistress. . .and definitely intends to be his wife, even if it takes coercion and/or a lawsuit. Eventually, then, after a meandering, 175-page buildup, Dr. B. is savagely murdered; Mrs. Cunningham is charged, along with her latest lover; Quinncannon (a bland presence this time) and Brendon (who has discovered that dead Dr. B. was his father!) take on the defense. And the very spotty courtroom drama touches on a variety of issues: whether Mrs. Cunningham was legally married to the dentist; whether she perhaps killed her last husband; whether her daughters are lying about an alibi; whether medical expertise was involved in the knifing; etc. The weakest of Paul's three hard-working attempts at blending tree-crime reconstruction with ribald, sentimental period-fiction--thanks to an uninteresting central mystery, a limp grab-bag of uncoordinated subplots, and a stubbornly unengaging narrator-hero.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1987