Night on Fire
Review: Former high-powered Manhattan, now laid-back Honolulu attorney Kevin Corvelli takes on the case of defending a woman accused of killing her husband — and 10 other innocent people — in a raging blaze that consumes the top floor of a luxury hotel, in Night on Fire, the second mystery in this series by Douglas Corleone.
The accused is Erin Simms, who had arranged a picture perfect wedding on the islands, only to learn that her husband-to-be Trevor had a brief affair with one of her bridesmaids just a few weeks prior to the event. She goes through with the wedding, but later that night, a fire breaks out in their honeymoon suite, killing Trevor and the occupants of all the neighboring suites. Except Trevor was already dead, stabbed in the chest with a switchblade, one that Erin had purchased just days before. The evidence against Erin is solid, the media attention intense. But Corvelli has fallen head over heels for Erin and wants to — needs to — believe she is innocent, crafting a defense to divert the jury's attention to someone else — anyone else — that may have wanted Trevor dead, at least long enough to win a not guilty verdict.
Kevin Corvelli possesses a devil-may-care attitude towards life, and is no stranger to twisting the law to suit his defense of a client, but in Night on Fire he comes across as a little more of an unprincipled cad than he did in his debut, last year's excellent One Man's Paradise, not exactly unlikeable but not altogether appealing either. Which is a somewhat unfortunate distraction since this is otherwise a first-rate, carefully plotted and developed mystery, complete with riveting courtroom scenes in the final third that compare with the best of Perry Mason (who no doubt provided some inspiration, at least from a legal and investigative perspective, for the character). Corvelli isn't a saint or a hero — nor does he want or pretend to be — and maybe it's the presence of a 4-year-old boy, who is another victim of the fire when his grandmother perishes and who acts in a far more adult manner than Corvelli does half the time, that by comparison makes the his actions all the more noticeable and striking. Still, the smartly written, cleverly devised, twist-filled plot more than makes up for the ever so slight disappointment in the lapse of Corvelli's ethics here.
Acknowledgment: The author provided an ARC of Night on Fire for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
One Man's Paradise
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), April 2010
ISBN-13: 9780312611583; ISBN-10: 0312611587
Last Lawyer Standing
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), August 2012
ISBN-13: 9780312552282; ISBN-10: 0312552289
Location(s) referenced in Night on Fire: Honolulu, Hawaii
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Night on Fire by Douglas Corleone — A Kevin Corvelli Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: April 2011
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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