Shoot the Lawyer Twice
A Rep and Melissa Pennyworth Mystery by Michael Bowen
Review: Reppert "Rep" and Melissa Pennyworth find themselves trapped in a maze of conflicting agendas involving lawyers (of which Rep is one), academics (of which Melissa is one), and business executives and more in Shoot the Lawyer Twice, the fourth mystery in this series by Michael Bowen.
The plot of Shoot the Lawyer Twice has so many facets, so many angles, that it's hard to pick just one to be considered the primary one. Using the opening chapter as a guide for selection, Jimmy Clevenger is on trial for piracy on the high seas for uttering the line "sex or swim" to the female owner of a yacht anchored in Lake Michigan a half-mile off the coast of Milwaukee. The woman, Carolyn Hoeckstra, jumped overboard and swam to shore. The legal basis for Jimmy's indictment seems to rest on nuances of the law, something a battery of attorneys seem perfectly willing to debate at length, all the while racking up billable hours. This being a murder mystery, a dead body must make an appearance at some point, but the victim is not directly related, but not unrelated either, to the legal case. Harald Angstrom, a colleague of Melissa's and a client of Rep's, is killed by ingesting a lethal dose of curare. While Rep follows the case of Jimmy Clevenger, Melissa looks into why Harald Angstom may have been a threat to someone, enough that they killed him.
The word "erudite" leaps to mind while reading Shoot the Lawyer Twice. Rep and Melissa relate to each other and their colleagues in a learned, scholarly manner, not quite annoyingly highbrow but close. The narrative is sharply written and the dialog frequently witty, all in all generally a pleasure to read. The trick comes in following the plot which is so twisted that the book should have come with handy notecards to assist readers in matching who is involved with what. It's also a bit frustrating when something potentially interesting is introduced (and it's important to pay attention because the reader is never quite sure if it's significant or even relevant to the plot) then never mentioned again.
All the effort expended into reading and trying to understand Shoot the Lawyer Twice would have been worthwhile had the resolution not been so … pedestrian. It's really rather disappointing. A plot as complicated and convoluted as this, and really in many ways cleverly devised, deserved a more demanding and satisfying conclusion.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Shoot the Lawyer Twice for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), October 2001
ISBN-13: 9781890208912; ISBN-10: 1890208914
Service Dress Blues
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), September 2009
ISBN-13: 9781590586679; ISBN-10: 1590586670
Location(s) referenced in Shoot the Lawyer Twice: Wisconsin
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Shoot the Lawyer Twice by Michael Bowen — A Rep and Melissa Pennyworth Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: October 2008
List Price: $24.95