Brad Smith, a “funny, poignant, evocative” (Dennis Lehane) crime novelist, debuts a new series set in upstate New York featuring jack-of-all trades, Virgil Cain, who must clear his name of two murders while on the run from the law in this spirited country noir.
Mickey Dupree is one of the most successful criminal attorneys in upstate New York, having never lost a capital murder case. That is the upside of being Mickey. The downside: Mickey has a lot of enemies and one of them drives the shaft of a golf club through his heart, leaving him dead in a sand trap at his exclusive country club.
The cops, led by a dim-witted detective named Joe Brady, focus their attentions on Virgil Cain. Just two weeks earlier Virgil told a crowded bar that “somebody ought to blow Mickey’s head off,” after the slippery lawyer earned an acquittal for Alan Comstock, the man accused of murdering Virgil’s wife. Comstock, a legendary record producer, gun nut, and certifiable lunatic, has returned to his estate, where he lives with his wife, the long suffering Jane.
It appears to Virgil that the fix is in when Brady immediately throws him into jail with no questions asked. In order to set things right, Virgil escapes from jail, determined to find Mickey’s killer himself. Aside from a smart and sexy detective named Claire Marchand, everybody is convinced that Virgil is the culprit. When Alan Comstock is discovered with six slugs in his body the day after Virgil’s escape, his guilt is almost assured. Now it is up to Virgil to convince everyone of his innocence—by finding the killer before he winds up as the next victim.
Smith (Busted Flush) eschews pyrotechnics in favor of character in this assured crime novel, the first in a new series set in upstate New York. When defense attorney Mickey Dupree is found in a sand trap at the Burr Oak Golf and Country Club, the shaft of a broken five iron driven through his heart, suspicion falls on small-time rancher Virgil Cain, who 10 days earlier, in a local bar, threatened to blow off Mickey's head. Virgil was unhappy that Mickey had gotten crazy record producer Alan Comstock off for killing Virgil's wife. Homicide cop Claire Marchand is willing to give Virgil the benefit of the doubt, even after someone shoots Alan dead the day after Virgil escapes from police custody. Smith develops the romance between fugitive and lawwoman as smoothly as he drops in clues to the mystery. Intriguing background players, such as vet Mary Nelson, who shelters neglected horses, add depth.