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Murder most foul follows the disappearance of the title character--underemployed, fast-talking lawyer Steve Winslow's latest client--in this typically zany courtroom caper. The story takes off in the first chapter, when a woman wearing a man's oversized raincoat stomps into Steve's office, identifies herself as Kelly Blaine, says she was just chased out of her job as typist of panjandrum Milton Castleton's memoirs--a job he paid her $100 a day to do in the nude through a one-way mirror--by lecherous second-stringer Phil Danby, and hires Steve to recover her clothes and purse. When Steve confronts Castleton and Danby, they deny the allegation but admit the arrangement and are perfectly willing to settle for $50,000. But Kelly doesn't seem interested in the money--and she promptly takes off, leaving a phony address behind (Kelly Blaine isn't her real name either), and surfaces in the company of Castleton's go-getter grandson David only to find herself charged with David's murder. Nobody could maintain this level of breathless craziness all the way through, and Hailey (The Baxter Trust, 1988; The Anonymous Client, 1989; The Underground Man, p. 467, etc.) doesn't try; Kelly turns out to be avenging her brother's conviction for skimming Castleton's books, and David's murder is straightforward whodunit stuff, with Steve benefiting from some pretty lucky guesses to boot. But the pace is relentless even when you think Hailey's out of surprises. Fast and funny, though not up to the promise of its title.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1990
Publisher: Donald Fine