As if Victor Carl doesn’t have enough trouble in the present tense, an ancient stiff rises from the grave to bite him on the leg.
Other members of the Philadelphia bar can only envy Victor’s loyalty to his chronic client Joseph Parma, a.k.a. Joey Chops. Just because Joey’s always guilty, just because he’s never current with his bill, just because he’s been found with his throat slit is no reason why Victor shouldn’t go the extra mile for him. This time, that means figuring out which 20-year-old murder Joey was scared about when he phoned Victor shortly before turning up dead on Pier 84. At length—at extra length—Victor satisfies himself that Joey was implicated up to his brass knuckles in the death of Tommy Greeley, a Penn Law student and rising drug dealer who vanished in exactly the proper time frame. But how are the two murders (assuming that the never-discovered Tommy was really murdered) connected to Kimberly Blue, the guileless, stunning Vice President for External Affairs who turns up in Victor’s office, or to Eddie Dean, her unlovely boss at Jacopo Financing? How are they connected to Tommy’s one-time best friend, now Justice Jackson Straczynski of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and his single-minded wife? Why is Victor suddenly getting the bum’s rush in every courtroom he stumbles into? And why does his father, hospitalized with pneumonia and worse, insist on unburdening himself of the interminable story of the girl in the pleated skirt? Victor, a wisecracking lawyer (Fatal Flaw, 2003, etc.) trapped in a tale otherwise devoid of legal intrigue or wit, will have to rely on a little help from a lot of friends to wind up the tangled, forgettable skein.
Conscientious, lumbering, prosy, and as voluminous as one of those fits-all ponchos that really fits nobody but the biggest dogs in the rain.