Review: Philadelphia attorney Victor Carl is desperate for clients, so desperate he's willing to sit in a courthouse hoping someone — anyone — will require his services. And so it happens, when a woman from his past, a fellow law student, asks him to take her place in court while she attends to something else, the start of a renewed, and most interesting, relationship between the two, in Bagmen, the eighth mystery in this series by William Lashner.
Melanie Brooks offers little in the way of background on the case to Victor, other than to tell him to use the word "Selma" at some point during his argument. He does, and quite unexpectedly the judge rules in his favor and the case is dismissed. A win for Victor. Or is it? Melanie next sends him to Chicago to meet with a potential client. He's to ask one and only one question: What is it the client wants? Against all odds, he gets an honest answer. This all leads up to what Victor learns is Melanie's ultimate assignment for him: to be a bagman for a Congressman being blackmailed. It's easier to pay than to suffer the consequences, and though Victor is morally and ethically ambivalent about the job, he most certainly is not so regarding its benefits. That is until murder enters the picture.
It's been seven years since the last Victor Carl mystery, A Killer's Kiss (reviewed here and enthusiastically praised), but the passage of time has not done this series any favors. Bagmen certainly has its high points, almost all centered on the entertaining character of Victor Carl, but its low points are equally telling. For starters, the book is far, far too long, at least 100 pages too long in its middle stretch. But it's really the overall story arc that's the problem here; it's unnecessarily complicated and worse, not all that interesting. The tone of the book is generally comic and light, which probably makes the plot seem even more heavy and plodding in comparison. To be sure, fans of the series will no doubt welcome Victor Carl's return and forgive (and forget) this entry in the series, but first time readers may not give him another chance.
Acknowledgment: Thomas & Mercer provided an ARC of Bagmen for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Thomas & Mercer (Trade Paperback), May 2013
ISBN-13: 9781611099355; ISBN-10: 1611099358
The Four-Night Run
Thomas & Mercer (Trade Paperback), May 2016
ISBN-13: 9781503933248; ISBN-10: 1503933245
Location(s) referenced in Bagmen: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Bagmen by William Lashner — A Victor Carl Mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2014
List Price: $14.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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