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Claude McCutcheon is a laid-back bachelor lawyer who takes only those cases with social merit, eats well, and is irresistible to women. He's yet another sardonic knight-errant in a world gone bad--the world, in this case, being San Francisco and the Bay Area. Miller is only lightly satirical, but California presents so many targets that his offhand swipes are the best thing about his novel, establishing an agreeable undercurrent throughout. The story? In 1943, an Italian POW escapes from a North Carolina camp, murders several people, and returns to Europe. Much later, he immigrates to California, where he becomes a timber magnate, keeping environmentalists at bay by bribing various officials. But his records are stolen, and McCutcheon is swept up in the murders that ensue as would-be blackmailers converge with an old sheriff who has been on the trail of the escapee for 50 years. There's the requisite beautiful woman and some credible sleazy villains. The first in what looks to be a perfectly serviceable series. John Mort --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Rugged, gory, misanthropic tale of a Vietnam vet turned lawyer who can't keep himself away from sleazy characters and the trouble they bring. San Franciscan Claude McCutcheon, first seen as a naive soldier flummoxed by his girlfriend's pregnancy in ``Bethune, South Carolina'' (from Miller's story collection, Jackson Street, 1995), resembles the burned-out, hard-punching movie heroes Clint Eastwood used to play. Before we meet him, a dark prologue describes a Nazi POW's murderous escape from a Virginia internment camp and the obsessive but ultimately futile efforts of Prince George County Sheriff A.G. Farrell to recapture him. Thirty pages, and nearly fifty years later, McCutcheon, a bearded, cotton-shirt-and-blue-jeans loan wolf who spends more time working out in the gym than in a courtroom, swaggers into Berkeley's holding tank to extract Bobby Norton--a disreputable nightclub owner being held for questioning in the fatal shooting of lawyer Myron Hirsch, a zealous ``radical environmentalist'' who indulged in blackmail. At about this time, McCutcheon also draws the distant attentions of Margaret Stewart Tikkanen, the beautiful ice queen CEO of a phenomenally profitable northern California lumber company that had been the target of Hirsch's public and private scheming. McCutcheon's acidic dislike for phony mystics, bed-hopping Berkeley professors, liberals, and such grotesques as Feather Rainforest, a fearsomely fat ecoterrorist (and her whining, sociopathic son Wolf Walks Far) doesn't justify the cruel action-movie fates these figures meet here. Meantime, the lawyer himself takes as many blows as he gives, including a pistol-whipping and stabbing. Varying slightly from the formula, Miller follows the requisite slam-bang climax with a series of what-it-all-means meditations about the relationship between a soldier's duty and what survival demands. A tentative, turbulent, yet promising first novel that aspires, somewhat unsuccessfully, to a grand statement on personal destiny and military honor. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.