A Boston lawyer and political consultant finds her latest client more than a handful in attorney-turned-reporter Gerst’s debut novel.
Chaz Renfrow wants Susan Callisto to help him run for mayor of Telford, Mass., because she has an unblemished, though short, record of political wins. Why the CEO of a biotech company wants to be mayor of Telford is another story. Smooth-talking Chaz insists it’s because that’s the only way to get the zoning he needs to expand NovoGen Tech. Her trusted friend Beauford Smith warns Susan that Chaz is poison. But skeptical Susan lets Chaz charm her into accepting a $20,000 retainer anyway, squandering some of the time she should be working on Roddie Baird’s congressional campaign visiting Renfrow’s Telford site. She keeps better tabs on elderly restaurant owner Nino Biondi, a client from her old real estate days, in his battle with landlord Peter Lombard. When Nino is beaten unconscious, presumably by Lombard’s thugs, Susan uses the power of attorney Nino assigned her to cut a deal with Lombard that gives Nino a new site in Cambridge plus an apartment. Meanwhile, trouble erupts at NovoGen Tech: Chaz’s assistant Torie Moran is found dead in the trunk of her car. Telford police call in the Staties, forcing Lt. Michael Benedict back into Susan’s life. Between her old boyfriend and her new client, the lawyer doesn’t know where to turn—until a spate of new attacks threatens both her livelihood and her life.
Gerst gets good mileage out of her political roots, but it’s her finely honed plot that seals the deal. Here’s hoping she runs for another term.