Death of a Wannabe
Review: San Mateo attorney Frank May — "I don't do criminal work" — is drawn into the defense of one of his clients accused of murder in Death of a Wannabe, the first mystery in this series by Lawrence Friedman.
When Barney Bell's wife Blanche is murdered, the first person he calls is Frank. But Frank makes it clear that drawing up a will for someone and defending the same of a felony are two very different things. Frank does the former, not the latter. He refers his client to a criminal defense attorney, who seems willing to plead the case down to something more manageable. But Frank doesn't think Barney did it, indeed, he doesn't think he's even capable of doing it, and starts his own informal investigation in the circumstances surrounding the death of Blanche.
The narrative style of Death of a Wannabe is one of Frank May relating a story to the reader that works surprisingly well. To give a sense of the easy-going tone, here's how the third chapter opens:
I realize that I'm telling this story somewhat out of order. I'm using a bit of flashback technique. You already know that Blanche is dead. You know that Barney called me in the middle of the night, to tell me that somebody killed Blanche — bashed in her head with a bronze statuette. Blanche hasn't made an appearance yet in this story, except as a hearsay corpse.
Much of what Frank relates is in the form of conversations he has with other people. He mostly sticks to the salient — black and white, if you will — points of what transpired, infusing it with brush strokes of subtle humor to give a little color to the story. The case turns out to be something akin to a locked room mystery, with Frank using one of Sherlock Holmes's best known techniques for solving it: when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Seek out this entertaining, cleverly presented mystery.
(Note: The copyright page indicates this is the third mystery in this series, but no information can be found about the first two titles. There are no overt references to previous cases in the narrative, thus it is possible Death of a Wannabe is simply the first of "The Frank May Chronicles" to be published.)
Acknowledgment: Quid Pro Books provided a copy of Death of a Wannabe for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Who Killed Maggie Swift?
Quid Pro Books (Trade Paperback), March 2014
ISBN-13: 9781610272247; ISBN-10: 1610272242
Location(s) referenced in Death of a Wannabe: San Mateo, California
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Death of a Wannabe by Lawrence Friedman — The Frank May Chronicles
Publisher: Quid Pro Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2011
List Price: $15.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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