Review

Unlucky in Law

by Perri O'Shaughnessy



Perri O'Shaughnessy has with Nina Reilly created one of the more
interesting criminal defense attorneys presently on the
bookshelves. Reilly is conflicted and not entirely likable, yet is
undeniably driven and loyal to her clients, no matter how
reprehensible or guilty they might initially seem to be. All of
these elements are present in UNLUCKY IN LAW, O'Shaughnessy's
latest novel detailing the ever-evolving storyline of Reilly's life
and courtroom dramas.

UNLUCKY IN LAW finds Reilly back in the Monterey-Carmel area,
having uprooted herself from her fulfilling life in Lake Tahoe to
be with her love interest, Paul van Wagoner. Returning to her first
legal employer, the staid and legendary firm of Pohlmann,
Cunningham, and Turk, Reilly appears to have taken on an unwinnable
case on behalf of a client who it would seem is truly guilty of
murder. Stefan Wyatt is arrested in the middle of the night with a
bag full of human bones in the back seat of his car. He maintains
that he had been hired to retrieve the bones by Alex Zhukovsky, an
allegation that Zhukovsky vehemently denies.

But grave robbing is the least of Wyatt's problems. When the police
search the graveyard where Stefan had been digging, they find a
freshly murdered body. The grave is that of Zhukovsky's father ---
and the murder victim is Zhukovsky's sister, Christina. A search of
Christina's residence reveals blood splatters that contain DNA
matching Wyatt's own. Reilly clings desperately to a couple of
inconsistencies. Wyatt did not have any cuts on his body when he
was arrested, so it cannot be explained how he could have managed
to leave blood at the scene of the crime. Wyatt also insists that
it was Zhukovsky who hired him to disinter the bones. Wyatt,
however, has been in trouble with the law before, and he appears to
be headed toward becoming a three-time loser.

Reilly is further hampered by the fact that it appears as if
virtually no trial preparation was done for the case and that she
is ostensibly second-chair, or assistant, to Klaus Pohlmann, an
eccentric but brilliant defense attorney and her former mentor.
Pohlmann is behaving erratically, and Reilly is unsure as to
whether he is simply exhibiting his idiosyncratic mannerisms or if
encroaching senility has taken hold of him.

Van Wagoner, in his role as private investigator extraordinaire, is
there to help, but his multiple relationships with Reilly keep
getting them tangled up personally and professionally. Reilly is
having second thoughts about leaving her practice and home in Lake
Tahoe for Monterey and Carmel Valley, while van Wagoner --- and at
least one reader --- is puzzled as to why she is having so much
difficulty making up her mind. Van Wagoner's digging and Reilly's
networking with forensic scientists soon uncover that Christina and
the elder Zhukovsky shared a secret of earthshaking importance ---
as well as an unforeseen link with Wyatt, who claims to have never
met either of them. Reilly's courtroom revelations affect not only
her client but also virtually everyone else in the novel, including
Reilly herself.

O'Shaughnessy has never exhibited any reticence in turning Reilly's
life upside down, and longtime readers of this fine series will
have a good idea of what they can expect by the end of UNLUCKY IN
LAW.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011

Unlucky in Law
by Perri O'Shaughnessy

  • Publication Date: March 29, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Dell
  • ISBN-10: 0440240883
  • ISBN-13: 9780440240884