Nina Reilly is back! But in PRESUMPTION OF DEATH, she is no longer
practicing law in Tahoe; rather she has taken up residence in
Carmel Valley with her longtime lover, Paul van Wagoner, P.I.
"Living together was a revelation. They weren't kids, and melding
their lifestyles didn't come easy." Her son, Bob, is in Europe; her
former secretary cum best friend, Sandy Whitefeather, is in
Washington on business "… with the federal government at the
Bureau of Indian Affairs …" and Nina is auditioning for the
part of Paul's permanent partner.
Things are not quite perfect in the couple's relationship, but they
put their personal concerns aside, when Sandy calls them for help.
They are needed to identify the charred remains of an alleged
arsonist who died in a fire not far from Paul's home. The victim
could be Willis a.k.a. Wish, Sandy's son. She tells them that the
police have called and informed her that "He went up the Robles
Ridge above Carmel Valley Village … with another boy. His
roommates say he didn't come home that night or last night either."
But Sandy does not believe he is dead nor does she believe he
started the fire that burned fifteen acres.
The couple hurries off to the morgue, and the story heats up from
there. The remains are not Willis's. Wish is not dead, but if the
body isn't his, then who burned to death in the blaze? The police
are convinced that Whitefeather started the fire on the ridge and
that he could be responsible for the other arsons that have
suddenly erupted in the valley. They arrest him. And Nina finds
herself with a client whose innocence she and Paul are determined
Their work takes them up and down the California coast, but keeps
bringing them back to the small neighborhood in the Village called
Siesta Court. Nina infiltrates the community and sees cracks in the
façade of closeness these people have created for themselves.
As the families come together, one by one, each couple's
vulnerabilities are exposed.
As Nina and Paul work together on their own investigation, they
discover that their personal needs often conflict and that, as with
everything in life, compromises must be made. Piece by piece, the
couple starts to unravel the intertwined facts and suppositions
that appear to make a strong case against Wish. Slowly, and with a
logical approach, the two are determined to get their friend out of
jail and hopefully find the real killer/arsonist before he strikes
again. And both of them commit themselves to building a life
PRESUMPTION OF DEATH is Perri O'Shaughnessy's ninth Nina O'Reilly
courtroom thriller. They (yes they, sisters Pamela and Mary
O'Shaughnessy) have a track record that is hard to beat. Their
readers have come to expect a terrific plot inundated with exciting
twists and turns and appreciate how the O'Shaughnessy sisters
manage to humanize their ensemble of regulars. Over the years, fans
have watched Nina and her sidekicks grow into fully realized
characters who are a delight to solve a whodunit with. This book is
a winner and a perfect summer sizzler. Enjoy!
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 22, 2011