Two lawyers, one crazy and the other his long-suffering ex-wife, wrangle toward reconciliation while crusading for animal rights in this sequel.
Minneapolis lawyer Lena Grant has gotten rid of her one big problem—her ex-husband and ex-partner, Nick Ward, an environmental attorney whom she reluctantly divorced when his nuttiness started overshadowing his legal brilliance. (The final straw came when he spent $89,000 to airlift a bouquet of roses to her in Switzerland.) But when Nick commandeers the mayor’s swimming pool to give sanctuary to endangered lobsters and winds up in the psych ward, she’s dragged back into his life as his lawyer and live-in guardian. Fortunately, Nick’s quixotic charisma—or delusional disorder, complete with a sheepdog puppet named Sancho that he treats like a sentient friend—is so enchanting that everyone loves helping him. His fans include Oscar, the ward attendant; Ralph and his wife, Alice Wilson, who run an animal shelter where the attorney does community service after he leaves the mental hospital; and even the judge supervising his case, who is unfazed when Nick grabs a gun from a bailiff and waves it at the courtroom. As Nick adroitly ropes the world into his ever-wilder animal rights schemes, he works even harder to coax the wary but wistful Lena back into marriage. Evans (The Marriage of True Minds, 2008, etc.) is also a playwright and his fey romance novel feels that way, with lots of visual business and breezy repartee that reads like an Aaron Sorkin script. (He: “Your husband is a very lucky man.” She: “I don’t have a husband.” He: “Then he’s a very lucky man.”) It’s all a bit stagey: Sancho’s constant silent interactions with other characters would play better in a theater than they do on the page, and the legal system’s indulgence of Nick’s quite serious felonies strains credulity. Still, Evans is a talented writer who crafts smart, funny scenes and characters engaging enough to make readers happily suspend disbelief.
A charming literary screwball comedy.