Milwaukee copyright attorney Rep Pennyworth’s fourth case begins with piracy on Lake Michigan and rapidly gets crazier.
“Sex or swim,” Jimmy Clevenger, an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee tells engineer Carolyn Hoeckstra when he shows up on her boat at midnight. Choosing to swim the half-mile to shore, she brings charges for attempted rape, and then, when the proceedings end in a mistrial, arranges to have him charged again in federal court for piracy. None of this would be Rep’s problem if his wife Melissa, an English professor at UWM, hadn’t gotten involved with thriller-meister Taylor Gates’s brainstorm about one-upping Dan Brown by writing an apparently fact-based novel that actually makes the Church look good—or if Rep himself had steered clear of professor Harald Angstrom, a colleague of Melissa struggling to extricate himself from a contract to write a centennial history of the Goettinger Corporation. Sound complicated? It gets even murkier with the news that Goettinger’s CEO, who died recently under circumstances that will soon sound a lot more suspicious, was Carolyn Hoeckstra’s father.
As usual in this waggish series (Screenscam, 2001, etc.), you’ll need a scorecard to follow the cascading complications. But Bowen’s powers of invention are so florid and his satirical touch so bright that most readers won’t care who gets carted off to jail.