* Spoilers *
Sorry, but besides the improbable plot, this book is so full of legal and other bloopers it's ruined. The legal bloopers are even more bewildering in a book written by a supposed graduate of Harvard Law School.
The book revolves around a man who doesn't want it to be discovered that he committed a robbery, and so he hangs around the robbery scene, stalks victims who haven't come forward yet, stalks the attorney in a related wrongful death case, tries to beat a confession out of a suspected perpetrator of the murder which happened at the same time, and kills several people, including two in Germany -- all of this from someone who just wants to lay low and avoid discovery.
The legal bloopers are many. A man, Dave Hanna, has a wrongful death suit for the shooting death of his wife at a motel. Virtually without exception, wrongful death cases are taken by plaintiffs' attorneys on a contingency basis. Yet, Dave's prior attorney, and current attorney Nina (heroine of the book), both charge him on an hourly basis, with no explanation of why they're taking this unusual step.
Attorney fees are NOT recoverable by the defendant if a wrongful death case is lost. Yet the defendant seeks attorney fees, and Nina fails to point out such a claim cannot be brought under California law. In fact, she warns Dave that they may succeed in their claim.
Nina says the court MAY dismiss the case prior to two years for failure to prosecute or serve a defendant, and that the court MUST dismiss for failure to prosecute or serve a defendant after two years. Both statements are plainly incorrect under the very California statute cited by the authors in the book (Civ. Proc. 583.420).
When Dave's life is in danger, Nina says, "It's a surefire way to end a lawsuit. Dispose of the plaintiff." Sorry, not true. The lawsuit continues and the estate collects.
Nina tells the court she wants to dismiss her case against "James Bova as an individual and as an insured of his insurance company." You don't sue someone "as an insured of his insurance company."
Nina tells the decedent's brother that he has a cause of action for wrongful death. That's not true in California where, as here, there is a surviving spouse.
It's unlikely a process server would tell someone he just served, "you should consult an attorney right away."
A proposed contract offer is for "Two million for you, properly sheltered from income tax...." A business can't "shelter" a payee from income tax. The only way to pay someone two million dollars, for services, tax-free, is to pay enough so that the net after tax is two million. (Merely paying the tax for them doesn't work, since the tax paid -itself- is income, and taxable.)
A major issue in the book is how many shots were fired during the robbery at the motel, and where the bullets went. On the stand, the genius mathematician mentally "estimates" the distance to the motel balcony by the Pythagorean theorem as 50.99 feet -- that's accuracy within 3 millimeters!!
We first read that the motel clerk, who was next-door, "heard the shots -- two quick shots" and then ran toward the motel office. No mention of her hearing a third shot.
Dave Hanna's wife Sarah was shot, on a motel balcony, and we're told that there was no gun recovered, but "they have the casings and the two bullets, including the one recovered from Sarah Hanna's body." Another witness later states, "The gunman fired one warning shot, and I think the second happened when Elliott reached him." It turns out later that the first two shots were fired up at an 80 degree angle, away from Sarah on the balcony, but it's not mentioned that one of the bullets recovered by the police was aimed directly away from Sarah. That would have been obvious at the time and is simply misleading to not include it early on.
Suddenly, half-way through the book, with no witness or evidence of a third shot, Nina asks a witness, "What about the third shot?" The witness miraculously remembers, "The final shot? Yes, we heard one more shot while we were running away." Where did THAT come from? But the book now hinges on the new third shot.
The same man who had two shots fired toward him now testifies, "'I was running for my room when I heard the third shot.' 'The police report doesn't mention any third shot. Where were you for the first two shots?' 'Going toward him.... There were three shots, I know that much. I don't care what the police reports say.'"
It turns out the third bullet killed Sarah, and THAT bullet was recovered, but Nina's investigator says, "Too bad the police couldn't find the third bullet."
The authors are just clueless when it comes to how handguns work -- something crime thriller authors should know a LITTLE about at least. Examination of the ammunition casings found at the scene would indicate the gun was an auto-loading pistol, both from the type of rim on the casing, and the fact that they were ejected. Yet Nina finds a witness who picked up the gun at the scene and kept it, which gun is identified by the authors as "a blue-steel revolver." But wait -- the authors just said that the bullet casings were recovered at the scene, and bullet casings are ejected from an auto-loading pistol, not a revolver. Later on a police sergeant identifies the gun as a "six-shooter" and asks the evidence technician how many rounds are left "in the chamber." A six-shot revolver has six chambers. If a pistol has one chamber, it's not a revolver. A chamber only holds one round at a time.
In describing the gun used in Germany, Nina says, "The German police have it. They tell me it was probably a Sig, a target pistol, a single-action semi-auto." This is contradictory. A single-action gun is one in which pulling the trigger ONLY fires the round and does not move the action. A semi-auto is a gun in which pulling the trigger fires the round AND prepares another round for firing by loading it into the chamber. This is like saying the German police found a car which was an automatic with a manual transmission.
The authors should be ashamed to sell this book. This is a merely a first draft of what might be an acceptable novel if the bloopers and the illogical bit about the robber trying to maintain a low profile while going on a killing spree were fixed. Not to mention that the college kids probably went gambling at Laughlin, Nevada, instead of "Loughlin, Nevada."