Grim City

Joe L. Hensley, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (231p) ISBN 978-0-312-11429-9
Hensley (Robak's Run) turns enough good ideas for two books into a single pedestrian tale, pasting its puzzle pieces together with large dollops of coincidence. James Carlos Singer, a struggling new lawyer in Grimsley City, Ky., gets a shot at a steadier income when circuit court judge Simon Daggert signs him on as part-time probation officer and unofficial ``judge's lackey.'' Daggert asks Singer to observe the progress of a case he is trying: Shirley Kentner is charged with arranging the murder of her wealthy husband. Jose Ramon Garcia, the Kentner handyman who confessed to and was convicted of the murder, claims Shirley put him up to it, but Daggert says, ""`Something's not right... when I sentenced him, he sat there grinning at me.'"" Singer's appointment lands him in the hornet's nest of small-town politics, complicating his work on the Kentner case. Meanwhile, he edgily notes that the ``covert Washington group'' he once worked for is sniffing around town and wonders about the hit-and-run death of his father, which looks like murder. Less in the way of plot would have meant more satisfaction in this mystery. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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