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Past Due

(The fourth book in the Victor Carl series)
A novel by

Publisher's Weekly
Lashner's latest, his fourth and longest, is another big and beautifully written saga, narrated by righteous, melancholy Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl. Though the book is nominally a legal thriller, the Dickensian atmospherics command as much notice as the plot. A complex case connecting a recent murder to one 20 years ago counterpoints Victor's hospital visits to his dying father, who is obsessed with unburdening himself of (mostly sad) stories from his youth. It's a tribute to Lashner's skill that these yarns hold their own against the more dramatic main story line. Victor has been retained by petty wiseguy Joey Parma (known as Joey Cheaps) about an unsolved murder a generation ago. The victim was young lawyer Tommy Greeley, and Joey Cheaps was one of two perps, though he was never caught. When Joey is found near the waterfront with his throat slashed, Victor knows his duty. This involves considerable legwork and clashes with an array of sharply drawn characters; Lashner is in his element depicting this rogue's gallery, and Victor riffs philosophically on his encounters. Foremost among the shady figures is a femme fatale (improbably but appropriately) named Alura Straczynski, who sets her sights on Victor. It's a move more strategic than romantic, but no less dangerous for him. The standard coverup by men in high places waits at the end of Victor's odyssey, but this novel, like Lashner's previous ones, is all about the journey. Lashner's writing-or is it Victor's character?-gains depth and richness with every installment. 5-city author tour. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal
When low-level criminal Joey Cheaps turns up with a slit throat, the loss of a client proves to be only the beginning of struggling lawyer Victor Carl's difficulties. Before dying, Joey had revealed to Victor a terrible event of 20 years before, the repercussions of which Victor believes may have led to Joey's death. Soon after, Victor is hired by Edward Dean, a man whose ultimate motive is also related to the events of that fateful night. Victor's investigation quickly leads him into conflict with several parties and, ultimately, with Dean himself. On top of his work-related plight, Victor must also deal with a dying father, trying to rebuild a relationship before it's too late. It would be a stretch to call this fourth entry in Lashner's Victor Carl series (after Fatal Flaw) a page-turner, but the payoff is ultimately well worth the effort. The characters have depth, Carl is easy to root for, and the writing is above standard thriller fare. Recommended for public libraries, especially those that already own other entries in the series.-Craig Shufelt, Lane P.L., Oxford, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
As if Victor Carl doesn't have enough trouble in the present tense, an ancient stiff rises from the grave to bite him on the leg. Other members of the Philadelphia bar can only envy Victor's loyalty to his chronic client Joseph Parma, a.k.a. Joey Chops. Just because Joey's always guilty, just because he's never current with his bill, just because he's been found with his throat slit is no reason why Victor shouldn't go the extra mile for him. This time, that means figuring out which 20-year-old murder Joey was scared about when he phoned Victor shortly before turning up dead on Pier 84. At length-at extra length-Victor satisfies himself that Joey was implicated up to his brass knuckles in the death of Tommy Greeley, a Penn Law student and rising drug dealer who vanished in exactly the proper time frame. But how are the two murders (assuming that the never-discovered Tommy was really murdered) connected to Kimberly Blue, the guileless, stunning Vice President for External Affairs who turns up in Victor's office, or to Eddie Dean, her unlovely boss at Jacopo Financing? How are they connected to Tommy's one-time best friend, now Justice Jackson Straczynski of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and his single-minded wife? Why is Victor suddenly getting the bum's rush in every courtroom he stumbles into? And why does his father, hospitalized with pneumonia and worse, insist on unburdening himself of the interminable story of the girl in the pleated skirt? Victor, a wisecracking lawyer (Fatal Flaw, 2003, etc.) trapped in a tale otherwise devoid of legal intrigue or wit, will have to rely on a little help from a lot of friends to wind up the tangled, forgettable skein. Conscientious, lumbering,prosy, and as voluminous as one of those fits-all ponchos that really fits nobody but the biggest dogs in the rain.

Genre: Mystery

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