By-passing relatives, neighbors, and even fellow cop Michael Brody, Tim O’Fallon names a virtual stranger to be executor of his will.
Tim’s contact with pet-training p.i. Rachel Alexander consisted of a few counseling sessions for 9/11 survivors in which he never spoke, once walked her pit bull Dashiell, then somehow decided she should handle his last wishes. When Tim apparently puts a bullet in his head, Rachel must close his apartment, contact his brother and sister, and make sure Parker, the drifter/con artist/petty thief he was trying to rehabilitate, doesn’t loot his apartment. Soon Rachel becomes convinced that Tim was no suicide and that the story that he died accidentally while cleaning his gun is a cover-up to soothe his spinster sister Mary Margaret’s feelings. The likeliest suspect is Parker, especially when the body of Parker’s aunt floats up in the Hudson and keys to her apartment lie in the Dumpster where Dashiell, who’s been trained in corpse recovery, finds Tim’s estranged brother Dennis. But none of the many clues pointing to Parker explains the black cloud over the O’Fallons, from younger brother Joey’s drowning 29 years ago at Breyer’s Landing to cousin Liam’s suicide, Tim’s father’s suicide, and the bleak, guilt-riddled stories told by Mary Margaret.
Upstairs neighbor Irwin the dwarf overstays his welcome, but Dashiell is admirable, and there won’t be a dry eye in the house when Benjamin (The Long Good Boy, 2001, etc.) lays out all the O’Fallon tragedies.