The release of a convicted killer who doesn’t happen to be a thief offers another crack at redemption for impossibly compromised New York private eye Leonid McGill (When the Thrill Is Gone, 2011, etc.).
Zella Grisham is the only client McGill’s ever had whom he knows to be innocent. Who could know better than him, when gambler Stumpy Brown, worried that the NYPD would link him to the $58 million Rutgers Assurance heist, hired McGill nine years ago to frame her for the theft? As Stumpy pointed out at the time, Zella made the perfect patsy because she was already headed for jail after shooting her lover Harry Tangelo when she found him in bed with Minnie Lesser, her former best friend. Now that McGill’s lawyer, Breland Lewis, has wangled Zella’s release, the frame-up isn’t looking like such a good idea. Harry Tangelo has disappeared. So has the daughter Zella gave up for adoption. There’s no trace of the missing $58 million, and McGill has no idea where to look for the loot. On the plus side, everyone he runs into, from low-rent grifter Sweet Lemon Charles to Rutgers bigwig Johann Brighton, acts as if they’re involved in some sort of felonious activity. As usual, the list of suspicious characters extends to McGill’s own family, even before they’re nearly killed by a pair of nameless intruders. His wife Katrina, who pulled the plug on their sex life years ago, seems determined to drink herself to death. His blood son, Dimitri, has hooked up with unsuitable Tatyana Baranovich, an ex-hooker from Belarus, and plans to move in with her. McGill just hopes he can do a better job rescuing Katrina’s son Twill from the life of crime he seems destined for than he’s doing rescuing Zella Grisham from the consequences of the crime she never committed.
Overplotted even by Mosley’s standards, with precious little chance to savor each scene and speaker before they’re hustled offstage to make room for the next.