The third time’s the charm in Sam Acquillo’s attempt to fly below the radar as a Southampton carpenter: He’s suspected of murder.
Ex-boxers often use up their lifetime allotment of concussions early. Sam Acquillo—who boxed before he became an engineer, then the head of his own firm, then a dropout from his job, his wife and his life—has been warned to avoid any more shots to the head. When he’s having dinner with his lover Amanda Anselma, banker turned builder, and she’s accosted by low-life contractor Robbie Milhouser, Sam handily defeats Robbie and his bigger sidekick Patrick Getty, but he can’t afford the rematch they promise. Luckily for him, somebody kills Robbie the day after one of Amanda’s nearly completed houses is torched. Not so luckily, the murder weapon is an industrial stapler linked to Sam by its barcode and his fingerprints. So Sam, who has already been dragged into two murder cases (Two Time, 2005, etc.), has the best reason in the world for wanting to solve this one. Of course, Sam’s not your ordinary sleuth. The first thing he does is to talk to Rosaline Arnold, the psychologist at the high school he and Robbie attended long ago, to get some insight about Robbie’s bullying. The second is to start fighting off Rosaline’s come-ons.
Fans of Spenser and Travis McGee will love the off-speed dialogue and won’t mind the sometimes windy ruminations or the suspiciously neat way justice is served.