Boston private investigator John Cuddy is reeling from the death of his love, Nancy Meagher, in an airline disaster. He can barely cope with the present, and the future seems bleak when his past comes calling. A fellow Vietnam vet enlists Cuddy's investigative skills on behalf of their old commander, Nicolas Helides, whose 13-year-old granddaughter was murdered during a party at the Helides' Florida estate. Cuddy arrives to find Helides confined to a wheelchair by a stroke, remarried to a gold digger, and surrounded by a coterie of sycophants. Though just 13, the victim had the singing voice of a woman, and her father intended to exploit her in order to launch the comeback of his old rock group. The thirteenth Cuddy caper, one of the darkest in the series, packs an emotional wallop as it exposes the basest of human emotions--greed, jealousy, lust, and unbridled ambition. Another strong entry in a fine series. Wes Lukowsky
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From Kirkus Reviews
Still reeling from the loss of his lover in a plane crash, Boston p.i. John Cuddy is barely hanging in when he takes a call from Florida. It's from old friend and comrade-in-arms Justo Vega. Vega and Cuddy served together in Viet Nam as lieutenants in the MP's under Colonel Nicolas (the Skipper) Helides, an officer they both lovedand to whom both owe a lot. Now Helides seeks their help, Vega tells Cuddy. Though filthy rich as the result of years of brilliant investing, the Skipper has recently been rendered virtually helplessfelled by a stroke that, however, hasnt lessened his driving need for vengeance. Someone has brutally murdered his 12-year-old granddaughter, and the Skipper, confident that Cuddy can succeed where the Ft. Lauderdale police have failed, wants him to take over the investigation. In no shape to investigate anything except his own pain, Cuddy nevertheless says yes simply because he can't find a way to refuse. The result? He encounters hostility from the local police, suspicion and general nastiness from the highly dysfunctional Helides family, a couple of savage beatings, and a near successful attempt on his own life. He also has a bizarre tte-...-tte with a singularly depraved sociopath while tied to what might be fairly described as a man-eating tree. Still, he manages to justify the Skipper's faith in him. Crime-solving being the chancy thing it is, though, the Skipper has less reason to be grateful than he'd hoped to have. Standard whodunit, slowed and mercilessly attenuated by endless talk between Cuddy and a long list of suspects. The series (The Only Good Lawyer, 1998, etc.) has had finer moments. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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