Back from a 10-year sabbatical, ebullient St. Louis attorney Rachel Gold (Trophy Widow, 2002, etc.) is faced with a Frankenstein civil suit that just won’t be settled.
Nick Moran, the dishy contractor who did great work for Rachel and, evidently, every other eligible female in Missouri, has been found dead in his truck along Forest Park’s Gay Way, his pants down, his manhood exposed, a lethal dose of heroin in his veins. Since his sister Susannah Beale is certain that he wasn’t using or gay, she wants Rachel to find out how he really did die. The only lead Rachel and her old buddy, raffish Professor Benny Goldberg, can dig up concerns a man whose truck, labeled Corundum, was spotted at the scene. Their search for that man sparks an unexpected connection with Rachel’s other big case: the suit she’s pressing on behalf of Muriel Finkelstein et al., who don’t want to leave their great neighborhood and its great schools so that developer Ken Rubenstein’s Ruby Productions, fortified by taxpayer dollars, can bulldoze it, put up luxury homes and sell them at an obscene profit. Rubenstein has offered Rachel’s clients 10 percent over the appraised value of their homes. Then he offers 15 percent and intimates that he’s willing to go even higher. The residents refuse until Rubenstein offers to walk away from the development entirely if only Rachel will promise not to initiate any legal actions against him in the future. Who could turn down an offer so clearly to her clients’ advantage? Only Rachel, who makes a counteroffer that gives her just enough wiggle room to drive both cases to an eminently predictable but highly satisfying climax dependent on the peculiar judicial gifts of the Honorable Howard Flinch.
The tale sags as it lumbers toward its foreordained conclusion, but it’s all worth it to hear Judge Flinch tell a witness who’s taking the Fifth: “You’re plenty incriminated already.”