BAD BIRD by Chris Knopf


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If you think Hamptons attorney Jackie Swaitkowski’s first case (Short Squeeze, 2010) had everything but the kitchen sink, wait till you see her second.

Moments before her private plane crashes into a Bridgehampton horse pasture, biker chick/pilot Eugenie Birkson tosses a camera bag out the side to land at Jackie’s feet. Determined to insinuate herself into a case her cop friend Joe Sullivan insists is no case at all, Jackie quickly signs up Ed Conklin, Eugenie’s mechanic and husband, as her client, even though everyone with a badge seems convinced that the crash was accidental. What do the photos on the camera’s surviving digital card have in common? Convinced that they can help explain Eugenie’s death, Jackie focuses on a picture of Delbert’s Beachworld Deli, a shot of an unfamiliar landscape, and a group photo from a society fundraiser. Even before she’s started to identify the Children’s Relief Fund contributors—from political consultant Benson MacAvoy to Janie Wilson, the current proprietor of a long-established family nursery—and poke around among Eugenie’s troubled birth family, the photo of Delbert’s rings an unwelcome bell: a 30-year-old robbery-with-violence that ended with the conviction of Billy O’Dwyer, Jackie’s own brother. As a bonus, she’s attracted the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, who have their own reasons for seconding the message she’s received via anonymous e-mail: “Back off or die, bitch.”

Knopf takes his sweet time introducing the complications. By the end, though, he’s piled on so many, some of them humdingers, that his cup runneth over.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-55124-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2010


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