Release date: 05/01/2004
A starred or boxed review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.
Lashner's latest, his fourth and longest, is another big and beautifully written saga, narrated by righteous, melancholy Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl. Though the book is nominally a legal thriller, the Dickensian atmospherics command as much notice as the plot. A complex case connecting a recent murder to one 20 years ago counterpoints Victor's hospital visits to his dying father, who is obsessed with unburdening himself of (mostly sad) stories from his youth. It's a tribute to Lashner's skill that these yarns hold their own against the more dramatic main story line. Victor has been retained by petty wiseguy Joey Parma (known as Joey Cheaps) about an unsolved murder a generation ago. The victim was young lawyer Tommy Greeley, and Joey Cheaps was one of two perps, though he was never caught. When Joey is found near the waterfront with his throat slashed, Victor knows his duty. This involves considerable legwork and clashes with an array of sharply drawn characters; Lashner is in his element depicting this rogue's gallery, and Victor riffs philosophically on his encounters. Foremost among the shady figures is a femme fatale (improbably but appropriately) named Alura Straczynski, who sets her sights on Victor. It's a move more strategic than romantic, but no less dangerous for him. The standard coverup by men in high places waits at the end of Victor's odyssey, but this novel, like Lashner's previous ones, is all about the journey. Lashner's writing—or is it Victor's character?—gains depth and richness with every installment. 5-city author tour. (May)