Under the Ashes: Murder and Morels - Charles Cutter
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In this fifth installment of a mystery series, a Michigan attorney’s fight against his client’s stingy insurance company suddenly turns into a murder case.
While Burr Lafayette is an appellate lawyer, he has reluctantly participated in a few homicide trials. His newest client, Molly Fagan, is merely looking for a life insurance payout. Her radio-station-owner husband, Nick, suffered a heart attack at a restaurant and later died in a hospital. But just when Burr has a shot at getting her the money, Molly winds up arrested for murder. The local prosecutor claims she slipped poisonous mushrooms into Nick’s veal morel, which ultimately proved fatal. While it all seems circumstantial, the prosecutor keeps scoring wins in the courtroom, especially when he offers a potential motive—beyond the million-dollar policy.
It certainly doesn’t help that the soon-to-be-retired judge doesn’t seem to like Burr and that Molly hasn’t been exactly truthful about everything. The lawyer has his work cut out for him, as he struggles to show that his widowed client, who many believe is “guilty as sin,” didn’t kill her husband.
Fans of Cutter’s series will spot its distinctive, abundant hilarity. Even in the courtroom, Burr endlessly quips or slyly exchanges his chair for the prosecutor’s less-wobbly one. There’s likewise welcome banter between Burr and his assistant, Eve McGinty, and legal partner, Jacob Wertheim. Nevertheless, an engrossing court battle takes precedence and hurls obstacles Burr’s way. There are, for example, unsettling moments when the whip-smart lawyer is a bit off his game: “I have no idea where to start,” he thinks to himself before questioning a witness. Similarly, his affinity for alcohol becomes a serious problem and may derail him completely.
Rapid-fire dialogue ignites the copious trial scenes, making this a brisk, enjoyable tale that many readers will devour in an afternoon.
"An appealing hero headlines a bracing legal thriller." —Kirkus Reviews
- Publisher : Mission Point Press (March 28, 2023)
- ISBN : 978-1-958363-63-8
- Retail price : $16.95
- Size : 6 x 9 inches
- Pages : 271