In Taylor’s (The Antelope Play, 2013, etc.) third legal thriller featuring Donnie Ray Cuinn, the Texas lawyer’s mother and adoptive father may have been schemed out of money by an old friend.
Don hasn’t been pals with Wesley Bird since the former all-American football player betrayed Don for his own political gain. But Wesley’s latest venture may be even worse: he’s convinced Don’s parents, professor Ralph Rothschild and Dorrie Louise, to invest in a (most likely) fraudulent land development deal. Unfortunately, Ralph has persuaded others at the Cartwright House, a retirement home where he’s staying, to invest as well. Don works to get everyone’s money returned, while also helping ensure that the H.H. Company doesn’t sell a tract of land—the Hieronymus Parcel, which neighbors the Cartwright House—for commercial development. The novel has an unusual structure: the novel treats all subplots equally. Don’s parents are initially the focus: the story opens with the Ralph-chaired group Save The Chimps trying to shut down the Primate Preserve on the Hieronymus Parcel. But Don can’t devote himself entirely to Ralph and Dorrie Louise; his office, which is barely making ends meet, is also handling difficult discrimination cases, and he just reignited a relationship with attorney Anna Kaye Nordstrom. Taylor’s approach works, however, by fueling the story with a fast pace and an obstacle-laden protagonist. The legal details ring true: Don is relegated to watching as the DA goes after Wesley for securities fraud and must hand off one of his cases to associate Wiley Franklin. His flaws, too, make him all the more intriguing; his romance with Anna Kaye, for one, may be doomed from the start, as he’s still pining over his late wife. Subplots receive excessive attention, including the convoluted legal back story to Don’s “errand man” Bobby Bill, but Taylor has fun with the entangled plot threads, providing clever and often unexpected resolutions, especially regarding Wesley’s shady deal.
A labyrinth of stories made coherent with astute writing and a capable, authentic lead.