A fortune-hunting scoundrel helps solve a murder case, in a picaresque thriller from Irish writer Collins (The Keepers of Truth, not reviewed, etc.).
Frank Cassidy is not the most sentimental guy in the world, so when he learns that his uncle Ward has been murdered, his first thought is the inheritance: Frank had gone to live with Ward’s family as a boy after his own parents died in a house fire, and now he figures he can claim a chunk of Ward’s farm. On Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula, the farm is now being run by Frank’s cousin Norman, who naturally refuses to send Frank money to come out from New Jersey to dispute his claim to the estate. But that’s not enough to stop Frank, who proceeds to make the trip (in the company of his wife Honey, stepson Robert Lee, and son Ernie) in a succession of stolen cars, eating food pilfered from rest-stop vending machines. In Michigan, Frank is astonished to learn that Ward’s suspected murderer is believed to be Chester Green, a boyhood friend from a neighboring farm who was thought to have died years ago. But the question of identity is a tricky one: the suspect tried to hang himself in prison and is now sunk in a deep coma, and an exhumation shows Chester Green’s coffin to be empty. And there are more complications, involving “resurrectionists” (grave robbers) and the true fate of Frank’s father in that fire of so many years ago. Even poor, hapless Norman—a truly innocent-seeming man who wants nothing more than to keep the farm he grew up on for himself and his family—comes under police suspicion. Maybe a situation as duplicitous as this can be made sense of only by a sleazy, dishonest scumbag—like Frank. You have to send a thief to catch one, right?
Fast, witty, and fun: highly entertaining but also highly forgettable.