In the second of Carson’s (RVR, 2010) McManus Thrillers series, the attorney’s two most recent cases have something in common—an illegal aliens/drugs smuggling scheme.
Frank, Jack McManus' brother, is a personal injury lawyer maintaining a low profile in Palmdale, California. His pal Shocker Schwartz, bartender and fellow claims adjuster back in the day, steers an injury case his way in the form of Roland “Rolly the Clown” Waxman, run down by a Hummer. Frank has concurrently lined up a possible sexual harassment suit: Tanya Tookers lost her job at an airplane boneyard for not succumbing to boss Mushti Mushtiffe’s unambiguous advances. Shocker and Frank track the Hummer to Evangalina Fortescue, vice president of a casket-manufacturing company, and the men are both shocked when further surveillance reveals a late-night meeting between Evangalina and Mushti. This apparent link between Frank’s cases is subsequently confirmed: Evangalina and Mushti show up to their individual depositions with the same lawyer. Frank suspects that the two are part of a devious plot to transport people and drugs in caskets. He has also spotted a red pickup truck constantly shadowing him. His predicament suddenly becomes more dire when people tied to the cases vanish and others turn up dead. Jorge Rivera, who’s behind the nefarious operation, thinks Frank knows too much and targets him for murder. This novel offers noticeably fewer courtroom scenes than RVR, but readers shouldn’t mind. They’ll be charmed by Frank and Shocker as amateur detectives; Shocker may hate surveillance but he’s exceptionally good at it, and when a lead points Frank to Miami, he follows it without hesitation. Carson doesn’t delve too deeply into Jorge’s smuggling business, but he establishes Jorge as the main villain who makes even his own employees nervous. The plot is more exhilarating than the preceding book’s, particularly because the protagonist is so often in danger. Frank has an unnerving encounter with Jorge in Miami, while someone holds Frank’s truck driver girlfriend, Christine Pulaski, at gunpoint. There aren’t many surprises regarding Frank’s investigation, with Jorge’s perspective giving readers an antagonist so early. But Carson still manages twists, including at least one unexpected (and brutal) murder.
Frank’s legal wiles give him sound instincts, but his determination makes him a worthy gumshoe.