cover image Sandra Nichols Found Dead

Sandra Nichols Found Dead

George V. Higgins. Henry Holt & Company, $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-3747-0

With The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1972), Higgins reinvented the language of the mystery novel with artfully natural dialogue that cried out for reading aloud. Recently (in Defending Billy Ryan), Jerry Kennedy, Boston's slick but compassionate criminal defense lawyer, and his friends have tended to wax somewhat long-winded, though with the charm of a old friends. Here, Kennedy has been appointed by a former classmate, now a judge, to try a civil wrongful death suit. He is working for the three children of Sandra Nichols to prove what the police couldn't-that her most recent husband, a rich drunk named Peter Wade, hired someone to kill her. Kennedy and his cronies talk endlessly, about everything from photography to old cases and clients. But each time Higgins reaches the point of conversation overload, he hooks back into the action with a forward-moving insight, clue or plot twist. Readers are urged to stick through the chapters full of conversations about previous conversations, reporting on old meetings and hearings, that set the scene for the typically clever solution that Kennedy engineers. (May)