Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review of LAW & DISORDER by Mary Jane Maffini

By Mary Jane Maffini
Rendezvous Crime, $16.95

Review by Cindy Chow

Everyone loves a dead lawyer joke. Until real lawyers end up dead.

Ottawa victim’s advocate attorney Camilla MacPhee was anxiously awaiting the conviction of Lloyd Brugel, especially after her client committed suicide soon after testifying and being grilled by Brugel’s sleazy lawyer, Rollie Thorsten. When Thorsten turns up shot dead and dumped in the Rideau River, Camilla assumes that it’s just another way of Brugel delaying his court sentence. She changes her mind when her favorite client, reformed art thief Bunny Mayhew, turns up on her doorstep with the news that he’s been receiving letters containing lawyer jokes, followed by notes naming a recently deceased attorney. Due to the easily distracted and borderline incompetent assistant her father saddled with her with, Camilla discovers that she also had unknowingly been receiving the same “warnings.” When the police disregard her suspicions, Camilla recruits her computer savvy senior citizen friend to help investigate and prevent further deaths. Her assistant Alvin Ferguson both aids and hinders her as he prepares for the arrival of Camilla’s boyfriends daughters, whom Camilla was unaware would be staying at her house. A bulldog of a real estate agent, determined to help Camilla sell an unwanted inheirtence, adds complications as Camilla attempts to discover what ties all of the deceased attorneys together and who may have it in for her, her client, and the law profession.

A hilarious contrast to the morose, disillusioned, lawyers of John Grisham, Camilla proves to be a delightful, impetuous, impulsive, and occasionally irrational character who bulldozes her way through in order to help her friends. A short, dark, changeling in a family of tall, svelte, blonde, sisters, Camilla dodges their attempts to meddle in her life as she copes with the arrival of her love interest’s daughters who also have a history of interference. The characters and intricate plot keep the pace of the novel moving quickly, and a rather unorthodox observation by Camilla provides her with a completely unexpected solution. This fourth in the Camilla MacPhee series will have readers eager for the next, if only to see if her life will ever get less complicated.

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