Was the judge’s murder a carjacking gone bad, or something more sinister?
In Rhode Island, Stu picks up a pair of hitchhikers in his old Lincoln. Next thing he knows, he’s in the back seat next to a nervous gunman who takes his pistol away from Stu’s head to aim it at the belligerent driver. Cut to sporadically successful gambler Billy Povich, accosted at the dog track by his friend and lawyer Martin Smothers, who’s obsessed with the killing of his mentor, Judge Gil Harmony. Petty thief Adam Rackers killed Harmony mid-carjacking and died himself in a subsequent crash. The sole survivor, Stuart Tracy, lies gravely injured in the hospital. Instinct tells Martin that there’s more to the story. He nudges one-time newspaper reporter/sometime sleuth Billy into investigating. While Billy questions Stu, Arsenault introduces two colorful subplots (more are on the way): Harmony’s attractive law clerk Kit Bass is beaten by bouncers as she tries to see mobbed-up club owner Mr. Glanz, and a larcenous bartender named Scratch barely escapes a fatal attack in his bathroom by an intruder masked by a plastic bag. Martin has problems of his own when the reading of the judge’s will is complicated by the surprise appearance of Harmony’s secret wife...or was she? A death threat gets Billy to take the case seriously.
Billy’s second has the same assets and liabilities as its predecessor (Gravewriter, 2006): sharp, stylish prose and a great cast of supporting characters much more interesting than the hero.