by John MesserAugust, 2000
A single mother trying to raise a teenage son; a past affair she cannot forget; a resolute belief in justice despite the death of her husband and the threats issued by his killer. These are the elements that have defined Lake Tahoe lawyer Nina Reilly's life in the earlier bestselling legal thrillers written by sisters Pamela and Mary O'Shaughnessy under their common pen name, Perri O'Shaughnessy. These terms also dominate their latest work, Move to Strike, in which Reilly struggles to prove the innocence of a 16-year-old girl accused of murdering her wealthy uncle, a prominent Lake Tahoe plastic surgeon.
Reilly is drawn into the case at the urging of her son, only to learn that the case is considered a slam dunk by a district attorney who easily establishes her client's means, motive, and opportunity. Nina finds herself trying to picture the crime based on the widely divergent accounts offered by an array of suspects. Her adolescent client does not help with a series of misguided attempts to mislead the police and withhold vital information.
Nina turns to a former lover and private detective, Paul Van Wagoner, to help piece together the conflicting details surrounding the sensational case. Like Nina, Paul brings his own problems: his agency is about to fold; he never fully recovered from his earlier affair with Nina, and he carries a deadly secret that could end their relationship forever. There is no shortage of suspects: the mother of a teenage patient who died on the surgeon's operating table and has sworn vengeance; a local burglar observed at the scene; a bearded foreigner seen arguing with the victim shortly before the murder; Nina's client, a juvenile delinquent who was seen at the crime scene and acknowledges an intent to rob the victim; and, finally, the client's mother, a ditsy, aspiring actress whose car was spotted at the scene of the crime.
O'Shaughnessy's solution to this vexing puzzle comes as a sudden and violent surprise proving that the Irish sisters have not lost their touch for providing suspenseful, entertaining reading.
John Messer writes from Ludington, Michigan.