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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When Joe Logan, a television anchorman, shoots the drunk driver who killed his wife and son, he is determined to demonstrate at his upcoming trial that the American legal system is not functioning. Once on the stand, he intends to point out that the drunk driver, a repeat offender, served merely twenty months in jail for manslaughter, while he, Logan, will probably serve fifteen years for avenging his family. In addition to highlighting this obvious inequity, he plans to expose a cover-up which occurred twenty years ago, involving shady real estate deals, rape, and murder.

A number of important people, however, made a lot of money from those real estate deals, and some, like Mark Baldwin, a powerful Boston media figure, have other guilty secrets that could be exposed if Logan talks. Baldwin, in need of information on how much Logan knows, hires Constance Gates, ostensibly to do a magazine article on the former anchorman. Although Gates is suspicious of Baldwin’s motives, she needs the money and accepts the job, but when she finally meets Logan, all bets are off. Or almost.

As in his previous novels, Higgins, former Massachusetts assistant attorney general, uses the Boston area he knows so well as a backdrop of respectability against which human corruption and cupidity are displayed. The dialogue drives the plot; the author’s ability to re-create faithfully the rhythms of both high- and low-life speech is marvelous indeed. A fine offering from one of the best crime novelists around.