Pro bono shamus Terry Orr, still looking for jobs to do while he’s waiting to avenge the deaths of his wife and infant son, finds work close to home that doesn’t even involve a mystery.
Leo Mallard has died of natural causes, but he’s left quite a mess behind: a charge to Terry to find and punish Loretta Jones, the ex who took off with the profits from Big Chief’s, the restaurant they shared, and a letter passing ownership of the Tilt-A-Whirl, Big Chief’s raffish successor, to rock critic Dennis Diddio. It’s no trouble to find Loretta, who demands the Tilt as her right and vows to make Terry’s life miserable—an empty threat against somebody whose wife, painter Marina Fiorentino, died trying to rescue her son Davy from the subway tracks where lunatic piano prodigy Raymond Montgomery Weisz pushed his stroller under the eyes of 13 witnesses. Now that Terry’s spent five years hunting for Weisz, however, a 14th witness suddenly says Weisz was trying to save Davy. And he’s got some unwelcome news about Marina too. Terry’s batted back and forth like a pinball from his violence-strewn attempt to settle Leo’s estate to his attempt to settle his score with Weisz once and for all.
Fusilli (A Well-Known Secret, 2002, etc.) writes with such poetic intensity that it’s easy to overlook how little Terry’s two cases have to do with each other, apart from the righteous indignation that fuels them both.