Attorney David Sloane (Wrongful Death, 2009, etc.) makes a satisfying return in a toy story for adults.
Around Seattle, legal folk have gotten in the habit of referring to Sloane as “the attorney who never loses.” As he awaits the verdict in his latest case—a malpractice suit against a pediatrician—Sloane takes pardonable pride in an unbroken string of 22 victories. Make it 23, when the jury returns in favor of Sloane’s clients, the McFarlands, grieving parents of Austin, a little boy who’s dead. Another victory, yes, but then why is Sloane feeling so much less than triumphant? For two reasons: (1) niggling doubts as to whether the pediatrician’s performance was as lackluster as Sloane had made it appear, and (2) a bizarre encounter outside the courtroom just prior to the verdict, the memory of which he can’t seem to shake. Toy designer Kyle Horgan, unkempt, smelling slightly of booze, obviously distraught, had accosted Sloane, stopping him long enough to point an accusing finger—at himself. The doctor was being mistakenly accused, a blatant miscarriage of justice. In explanation, he had thrust a manila folder at Sloane, swearing it would prove irrefutably exculpatory. Later, Sloane better understands the young man’s agitation. He had designed a good toy, but greedy hands were manufacturing it into a child murderer, hence Austin’s tragic death. Unsettled, Sloane is eager for further disclosure, but by now Horgan can’t be located. Happenstance? Hardly. Someone has secrets, so dark that keeping them buried amounts to a life and death issue. To that end, enter a world-class professional killer. As efficient as he is amoral, and aimed directly at Sloane, he’s been charged by his employers to inflict maximum bodily harm.
The ending’s a bit pat, but it’s still a well-told story that manages to be both harrowing and moving.