Richmond reporter Willie Black’s sixth adventure kicks off when one of his favorite watering holes becomes the site of a truly epic brush with the law.
The Dark Star is the favored spot for the attorneys of Bartley, Bowman and Bush to celebrate happy hour each Friday, and that’s who’s sitting around the bar when a twin-engine Beechcraft comes through the front window to make an unscheduled landing. What’s not to like about 22 dead lawyers? Well, one of them is Greg Ellis, the estranged husband of Willie’s third wife, Kate, and Cindy Peroni, Willie’s current squeeze, isn’t happy to see her man comforting his ex. More to the point, what looked at first like a horrible accident soon shows signs of being altogether more sinister. David Biggio, the man at the controls of the Beechcraft, had stolen it from his landlord, James "Chopper" Ware, such a short time before the crash that Willie suspects he had a deep-laid plan—a suspicion that hardens into near certainty with the news that, first, Biggio took out a $500,000 insurance policy payable to his 12-year-old daughter, Brandy, only two weeks ago, and, second, Thomas Jackson Bonesteel, the ambulance chaser who got Biggio’s ex full custody of Brandy, preceded his fellow members of the bar in violent death by a remarkably short time. The headlines promise to be huge if only Willie (Grace, 2016, etc.) can keep his job at his dying newspaper, which is hemorrhaging staff members every day in anticipation of yet another sale to yet another soulless journalism chain, even though Willie insists, “We’re like the ugly baby everybody passes over at the orphanage.”
Despite an overlong last act, Owen produces another grim, tightly woven, and resolutely professional piece of work with a memorably nightmarish payoff.