PRESUMPTION OF DEATH by Perri O’Shaughnessy
Kirkus Star


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Counselor Nina Reilly keeps on keeping on. And getting better.

When last encountered (Unfit to Practice, 2002, etc.), the always hard-pressed, ever indomitable Nina had come within an eyelash of disbarment. Now, as she begins her ninth, things are looking (deceptively) brighter. Career intact, she’s back home in Monterey County, sharing a deliciously erotic coexistence with the dishy love of her life, p.i. Paul van Wagoner. As her fans well know, however, serenity is not for the likes of Nina Reilly. Arson and homicide rear their ugly heads, and Nina soon finds herself dervishing frantically to defend young Wish Whitefeather, son of her feisty former assistant Sandy Whitefeather. But evidence against Wish is depressingly substantial. He had, authorities insist, both motive and opportunity to set the blaze that resulted in the death of a friend-turned-enemy. Moreover, Wish’s own explanation for the behavior that’s put him behind bars isn’t really calculated to sway skeptical minds. He planned, he said, to catch the real arsonist-murderer and be rewarded for his efforts. It transpires, fortunately for Wish, that there are others with equally intriguing motives. As Nina and Paul investigate on his behalf, they come upon a kind of “conspiracy of dunces”—ham-handed loonies colluding in an inept attempt to discourage builders and developers from entrepreneuring where they’re not wanted. Among the dunces—homeowners with a skewed view of what’s actually meant by private property—Nina hopes to pinpoint an alternative to Wish. But, being Nina, she has a plateful of domestic issues as knotty as her legal ones. Looking at her lovingly as she sleeps next to him, gently snoring, Paul sighs a bittersweet sigh of resignation: “He wanted life to be easy for her, but it never would be.”

Generous heart, steel-trap brain, elegant looks: great fun to read about.

Pub Date: July 29th, 2003
ISBN: 0-385-33645-4
Page count: 392pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2003


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