The Pink Pony: Murder on Mackinac Island — Charles Cutter
In Charles Cutter’s debut novel, The Pink Pony, sailors finishing a well-known race from Port Huron to Mackinac Island celebrate at the local bar, The Pink Pony.
Following a night of raucous drinking, one of the skippers sits upright in a chair by the bar with a string of Christmas tree lights wrapped around his neck. He is murdered.
Burr Lafayette, disposed head of litigation of a Detroit law firm and reluctant litigator, was at the Pink Pony that night and is drawn into investigating and defending the accused.This novel has action, clever dialog, interesting characters and a killer plot. It takes place on Michigan’s gem of an island, which the author describes as the investigation takes place.
Cutter's debut legal thriller tells the story of a litigator in Mackinac Island, Michigan, who defends a man accused of murder. Attorney Burr Lafayette is called to a bar called The Pink Pony by police chief Art Brandstatter, who suspects that Burr stole a pink hobbyhorse that normally hangs above the bar s door. But inside the bar is the scene of a far more serious crime: Jimmy Lyons lies dead by strangulation. Burr is initially reluctant to help accused murderer Murdoch Halverson, but he ultimately relents, as he needs the money; after all, he owns a building in which the elevator doesn't even work. The case against Halverson is strong, due in part to a reputed affair between Jimmy and Halverson s wife, Anne. But Burr is determined to exonerate his client, even if it means that he has to start his own investigation and find the killer himself. The novel spotlights a lawyer who isn t the most likable guy: he s cynical in nearly any situation and tends to leer at women (although he does at one point reflect on his own shallowness ). Cutter adds a few details to give him a modicum of sympathy, such as his faithful Lab, Zeke, who has more personality than Burr s rarely seen 9-year-old son, also named Zeke, who s a child of divorce. However, Burr shines at trial. His snide, often mumbled commentary becomes fitting when he s facing a judge who clearly doesn t like him and who s more interested in wrapping things up quickly. The story s legal banter is snappy, vibrant, and not without humor; one of the prosecutor s objections against Burr, for example, is that Counsel is flirting with the witness. Burr s investigation does eventually get a breakthrough, and there s an effective plot twist near the end. His rapid-fire questioning of defendants on the stand, though, is nothing short of exhilarating. A mystery with a protagonist who s truly in his element inside the courtroom.