cover image Fox Is Framed: A Leo Maxwell Mystery

Fox Is Framed: A Leo Maxwell Mystery

Lachlan Smith. Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2350-3

The complex family dynamics that Smith explored in his earlier books only become more intriguing in his superlative third Leo Maxwell mystery (after 2014’s Lion Plays Rough). In 1983, when he was 10 years old, Leo found his mother’s battered corpse in their San Francisco home. His father, Lawrence, was convicted of her murder and has been behind bars for two decades. Leo’s older brother, Teddy, despite being impaired by a bullet to the brain, has succeeded in getting the conviction reversed for prosecutorial misconduct. The prosecutor intends to retry Lawrence, bolstering the old case with a newly discovered motive for the murder—jealousy—and a supposed confession Lawrence made to an ex-con he befriended in jail. As Leo tries to connect with the father he never really knew and assist in Lawrence’s defense against a new murder charge, he struggles with doubts about his father’s innocence. Smith is masterly in creating realistic courtroom scenes, including the subtleties of witness examination, and, even more impressively, enhances the trial with the human drama of the Maxwell family. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Apr.)