It’s always fun to discover new authors, especially prolific ones, and so it seems with Michael Kahn. It’s especially interesting because his protagonist is a female lawyer and he seems to write well from the female perspective (although how I, a male, should have a clue, is problematic.) Excellent legal mystery novel (the courtroom scene in the case of the rampaging ostrich was a hoot.) I liked the way the investigation was spelled out and even learned some real estate law.
This book has a great set of characters and some quite humorous scenes that always makes a read enjoyable.
Rachel Gold: Our heroine, a St. Louis, Harvard lawyer, who’s also rather smashing (of course.) She’s got a hot boyfriend, a widower, who happens to be orthodox Jewish (she’s Reform) so she (and we) get some instruction on the role of the orthodox Jewish wife. Rachel thinks most of the Orthodox rules and rituals are medieval superstitions.
Professor Benny: Rachel’s good friend, foil, and comic relief. My favorite character.
- Angela Green: Convicted killer of her husband Michael Green. Rachel is Angela’s attorney in a Son of Sam suit. Rachel is perplexed by some anomalies in the trial record.
- Samantha Cummins: Michael’s squeeze and his intended replacement forAngela. She owns and runs the 309 Gallery. She has bizarre connections to many movers and shakers in St. Louis through the sale of paintings by Sebastian Curry, a mediocre artist at best. She is the mother of Trent, party through “equitable adoption” in the Son of Sam suit. “Ellen McNeil had described him as eye candy. That was an understatement. Sebastian Curry was a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream and, well, nuts.”
- Sebastian Curry: the aforementioned artist who happens to be a real hunk. His paintings Samantha sold at the gallery for ten times their actual worth.
- Millenium Management: a company that seems to exist only on paper and which no one wants to talk about, but which was getting a 40% commission on Sebastian’s paintings.
- Oasis Shelter: a battered woman’s shelter, also a client of Rachel’s. Their property is a thorn in the side of Nate Turner, a commissioner trying to bring redevelopment to St. Louis.
- Harry Silver: ex-English professor (fired for screwing the wife of the department chair not to mention one of the chair’s students. He’s a big fan of Trollope and now a successful businessman producing porn. “I certainly didn’t earn my degree to enlist as a foot soldier in Jacques Derrida’s poststructuralist/postmodernist deconstructionist brigade. So I finally said fuck it. I tried film criticism for about a year, but there’s no money in that, and most of the films I love date back several decades. Newspaper readers want a review of this year’s version of Pretty Woman, not an essay on the use of irony in The Philadelphia Story. So I decided to quit writing about the latest chick-flick and started making my own versions. I tried the independent film route. That’s a one-way ticket to oblivion. Fade out. Cut to interior—Pinnacle Productions.” He gestured grandly. “And here I am: the Prince of Porn.”
- Billy Woodward: One of Harry’s erstwhile actors who just happens to commit suicide in front of Samantha’s house. Just what was his relationship to Samantha? He also happens to be the mysterious “John” who Angela claimed was her alibi for the night of the murder. His nickname was “Rouphe.” (Hint)
- Jacki: Rachel’s secretary: “Standing six feet three and weighing close to two hundred and forty pounds, with plenty of steelworker muscles rippling beneath her size 22 shirtwaist dress, she was surely the most intimidating legal secretary in town. And also one of the best. I’d call her my girl Friday, except that anatomically she was still a he—and would so remain until next summer, when she would undergo the surgical…”
Some funny vignettes. For example, she goes to Chicago to meet with the other lawyers hired by the parties to the suit. “I spent two hours watching the alpha dogs take turns marking their territory as their entourages looked on approvingly. Harvey Silverberg staked out the First Amendment high ground, subjecting us to an eye-glazing summary of the three “seminal decisions” in the field, all of which, coincidentally enough, featured Hefty Harvey as lead counsel for the victors. Next came Nelson Liberman, who lifted his hind leg and sprayed us with a discourse on the importance of burying the other side in a blizzard of motions and discovery requests. Then it was Hammerin’ Hank’s turn. He sniffed around the perimeter and spouted a lengthy reenactment of his cross-examination.”