A wildly improbable plot and characters who all share the same sophomoric values mar this noir standalone from Lynskey (Lake Charles). In sleepy Emerald Shire, Va., Aggie Essex, a 26-year-old office worker still scarred by the death of her parents in a plane crash when she was six, becomes involved with Hondo Gunn, a 49-year-old lawyer haunted by his past as a Chicago mob lawyer and a so-called "love pact" made with the mob boss's hard-driving daughter, Maeve Hardcastle, 20 years earlier. Maeve, who has since replaced her father as boss, sends Hondo e-mails demanding that he honor their pact and return to Chicago to be her lover and lawyer. Readers should be prepared for strained prose (e.g., "She pressed shut her soppy eyelids, a squinch left sore by the seepage to her bitter tears") as Lynskey goes over the top to create a showdown between Hondo's new infatuation and his old Chicago flame. (Feb.)
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