In Hruska's latest legal thriller (Wrong Man Running, 2011), set mainly in Manhattan in 1961, only one thing stands in the way of Alec Brno’s chance of partnership at the big-time Wall Street law firm Kendall, Blake, Steele & Braddock.
It’s Carrie Madigan, a drug-addicted mobster’s wife. Alec is smitten, feeling that she’s "burrowing into him as if she were the missing part of his cells," a passion Hruska props up with pop psychology. The two met when Alec's managing partner, Frank Macalister, went on a bender and left him in the hot seat as first chair in a trial centering on the machinations of Carrie’s husband, mob boss Phil Anwar, who keeps her under control with brutal beatings and ample drugs. Anwar’s behind a disappearing diesel scam victimizing United States Safety Vault & Maritime Company. Hruska relies on acceptable typecasting in his short, cinematic chapters: A crusty old judge serves as a senior partner; Alec’s father is a disgraced but honest one-time union employee; and there's an ambitious, Rudy Giuliani–like federal prosecutor. There’s a second, less interesting plot thread involving (think Rupert Murdoch) Jocko Rush’s Telemarch News media empire. The plot rockets along, with Alec yanking the right legal tactic out of his briefcase at the right moment. Alec gets Carrie into rehab and away from Anwar; finds a bolt-hole in Reefer’s Harbor, Maine, where he rigs a trap made of swordfish skeletons and phosphorescent paint; and deals with Darcy, his former lover, who says, "You’re in a bad hole, Alec. You damn well ought to be climbing out of it." Courtroom scenes are brief but key, anachronisms are few, and most actions scenes are better than the one involving glow-in-the-dark fish bones.
Hruska has settled into the legal-thriller milieu somewhere between the more erudite and complex Turow and the topical, quick-moving Grisham.