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Serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole for multiple casualties incurred in the course of his burning things down, Bobby Alto, dubbed the “Midnight Man” by the Minneapolis press, is hoping his lawyer, Ray Lawless, can win the pending appeal. Alas, he can’t, and Bobby soon becomes a casualty himself, killed during a knife fight in Stillwater State Prison. In rapid succession, Lawless, his lesbian daughter Jane, and his son Peter, on the verge of a reconciliation with his estranged wife Sigrid, all receive ominous anonymous letters. Then Sigrid is attacked and has to be hospitalized, Jane finds that someone has stashed a cache of dope in her restaurant office, and Ray admits to his law associate Elizabeth that he thinks his family is being targeted because of the Midnight Man outcome. Was Bobby Alto really the homicidal arsonist? Are his brother, his dad, his mom, his seriously needy gal pal Taylor, and his best buddy Barrett Sweeny out to avenge him? Peter’s too consumed with worry over Sigrid to investigate, and Ray Lawless is too busy chastely pursuing Elizabeth and trying to make sense of a psychiatrist’s notes, so it’s up to Jane and her flamboyantly outré chum, theater director Cordelia Thorn (The Merchant of Venus, 2001, etc.), to interpret tarot cards and ultimately waylay a ski-masked perp with a prop gun.

Things are lively whenever Cordelia’s around. Otherwise, a fairly stodgy examination of the Lawless men’s troubled marriages and Jane’s passion for a younger woman and a runaway dog.

Pub Date: July 15th, 2002
ISBN: 0-312-26676-6
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2002


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