Acts of Malice

Perri O'Shaughnessy, Author Delacorte Press $23.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-385-33276-7
Attorney and single mother Nina Reilly makes her fifth appearance in the bestselling author O'Shaughnessy sisters' (Breach of Promise; Obstruction of Justice) new legal thriller, this one set on the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe. Reilly's client in this case is Jim Strong, a local ski bum whose family owns the swanky Paradise resort. Jim stands accused of killing his younger brother Alex, who was stomped to death by someone wearing ski boots whose imprints on Alex's chest match the soles of Jim's footgear. But the suspect claims he's being framed by his adulterous wife, Heidi, who gave a statement to police and has gone into hiding. The case gives Reilly the willies, as disturbing events ensue that cast doubt on her client. Philip Strong, father of the dead youth and the suspect, is behaving strangely, and the victim's wife, a libidinous ski bunny made wealthy through inheritance, seems to have more feelings for Jim than for her dead husband. And the prosecutor, the passionate Collier Hallowell, warns Reilly off the case, hinting that Jim is a psychopath who killed animals as a kid and will seek vengeance on her if her defense doesn't get him off the hook. Reilly almost takes the latter advice, because she and Hallowell are in love and talking about having kids together. Their romance strains credibility and verges on syrupy: ""He kissed her like he was searching for something, looking for her, only her."" The central question of whether Jim is a murderer or a sap has an answer as predictable as the love scenes are corny. Sisters Pamela and Mary O'Shaughnessy (writing under their vaguely disguised pen name) do well to surround Reilly with a well-drawn cast of characters who provide a pleasant diversion even after the suspense has fizzled. $300,000 marketing campaign; author tour. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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