An impossible assignment leads Twin Cities shamus Holland Taylor, who’s been sidelined ever since Dearly Departed (1999), to an even more combustible case in the past.
Hired by socialite widow Eleanor Barrington’s pet attorney, David Helin, to check out the bona fides of Emily Denys, her son’s gold-hunting girlfriend, Taylor has barely had time to discover that her name isn’t really Emily Denys when the case is propelled into more explosive territory by the fatal shooting of the subject. Now Taylor’s supposed to find evidence that will exonerate his imperious client—a tall order given that Joel Barrington is certain that his mother killed his girl and that Emily’s neighbor Alexandra Campbell actually saw her pull the trigger. The case seems hopeless until Taylor’s friend and ex-partner, St. Paul Police Department Assistant Chief Anne Scalasi, tells him that the bullet fired from the missing murder weapon shows the same marks as the one that killed Todd Franson, the mayor of Arona, Wisconsin, a year ago. Naturally Taylor hikes out to Arona, which is gratifyingly populated with citizens who hated Franson because of his anti-environmental scams, his quarrels with the local cops, and his sex life. But what does this bumper crop of suspects in another state have to do with the death of Emily Denys, whoever she was?
Housewright (Unidentified Woman #15, 2015, etc.) resurrects an appealingly troubled, self-tormenting hero who assures himself, “you’re the most pathetic human being alive,” even as he’s dodging bullets, decking assailants, making nice to his neighbor’s 11-year-old daughter, and coming up with a solution as dark as the mystery.