CAUSE AND EFFECT by Ralph McInerny


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McInerny, author of the Father Dowling mystery series (and other novels), is said to be launching a new series with this story about wealthy Indiana lawyer Andrew Broom. But it's an odd sort of debut--because series hero Broom, oddly bland and dullish, is more victim than sleuth here, in a grimly ironic black comedy of crisscrossing malice. Broom's client, unlovely farm-woman Agnes Walz, has been convicted of conspiring with her lover to have her husband killed by a hit man--even though the hit man actually wound up killing the lover instead. So, desperate for new evidence on appeal, the lawyer decides to smoke out that elusive, out-of-town hit man--by promising him more money for finishing the job on Agnes' swinish husband. And, at the same time, Broom promises the same hit man still more money--for killing. . .Broom himself! Why? Because the 44-year-old lawyer has been told by his doctor that he has terminal leukemia--and Broom would rather not suffer a lingering death. What Broom doesn't know, however, is that his doctor--who's having a secret affair with evil Mrs. Broom, a chilly beauty--is lying about the leukemia, trying (quite successfully, it seems) to drive Broom to suicide. So it's up to Broom's bright nephew/partner to uncover the medical truth and alert Uncle Andrew. . .before the hit man strikes. Complete with a slew of neat demises for all the villains: an implausibly contrived but sleek, modestly fetching exercise in macabre whimsy.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1987
Publisher: Atheneum