Jeffrey Klausner is to wed Marcy Nussbaum. During an intimate prenuptial moment, he fails to perform, perhaps due to the drugs he takes to manage chronic pain after an accident. Marcy is the daughter of histrionic Lovey Nussbaum, who seemingly takes pleasure in shouting orders and generally making life miserable for others. After Jeffrey’s death, which might be suicide, his distraught mother, Myrna, insists that neither her family nor Jeffrey is at fault; thus, his doctor, Neil Hammer, must be to blame. Myrna presses for action. His career marred by the “Dogicide” case in which a trained pit bull was used for murder, prosecutor Charlie Graham (previously introduced in Punishment) must now scramble to build a case for first-degree murder. Bailiff Casey Portman, who works for Judge Kanterman, is in a romantic relationship with Sheriff Luke Anderson. Portman crosses paths with madam Pleasure Jones, whose life is in danger lest she testify against a former high-powered client. With a South Florida setting that features moneyed residents, a leisure lifestyle for some and alligator-infested swamps for all, the story is chockablock with diverse characters, nearly all motivated by self-interest. Characterizations are not particularly in-depth (the story wins the day), but one standout character is Jones, a statuesque black woman with a stable of high-class escorts. Her romantic relationship with white attorney Tony Russo is notably well-portrayed. Throughout, the author educates readers about the legal system—voir dire (jury selection), discovery, handling of evidence (some of it ends up in Charlie’s trunk), the path of re-election for judges, etc. At times, though, scenes are so over-the-top as to call to mind The Jerry Springer Show: Lovey, on a rampage, has a confrontation on an escalator that doesn’t end well for Myrna. And there’s a string of incomprehensible text at the end of Chapter 56.
A mostly well-told story of justice (or not), with a stable of supporting characters and solid insights into our less-than-shining legal system.