- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
A fast-paced tour through the dark secrets and hidden agendas of scenic Lake Tahoe, Acts of Malice is the fifth Nina Reilly novel from the O'Shaughnessy sisters writing team (Perri is the pseudonym for Pamela and Nancy). Here they give us a further view into the personal and professional life of midscale attorney Nina Reilly, as she tries to sort out her feelings for a murder suspect and her conflicts over a blooming romance with her courtroom adversary. The ironic title underscores the many tangled plot threads in this engrossing tale, from family deceptions to those with even greater consequences for all involved.
Nina, a scrupulous lawyer and single mother of a teenage son, Bob, takes on a case involving Jim Strong, a skiing instructor accused of murdering his own brother on a dangerous slope known as the Cliff. The coroner has switched his supposition from accidental death to homicide after discovering that Alex was stomped to death. Jim's wife goes into hiding, claiming that he is extremely violent and had threatened to murder Alex in the past. Jim's father, skiing mogul Philip Strong, is shattered by his beloved son's death and seems almost apathetic to helping Jim. Nina originally believes in Jim's innocence, but signs soon show that he may not be as guileless as she once thought.
Although Nina has a reputation as one of the most uncompromising and innovative criminal attorneys in Tahoe, she quickly becomes unsettled by the romantic attention given to her by Assistant District Attorney Collier Hallowell. Is he truly interested in her now that he's finally gottenoverhis late wife, or is he merely attempting to manipulate the case by using Nina's emotions against her? As evidence against Jim continues to mount up, she's drawn into an ethical tug-of-war with herself, unsure of whether she is defending a cold-hearted killer, or if there's truly a conspiracy at work as Jim professes.
The O'Shaughnessys are extremely skilled at keeping the reader teetering on the edge between truth and lie, intertwining clandestine situations and the secrets of both the past and the present. The story deftly bobs and weaves between Nina's home life, her escalating affair with Hallowell, and her moral dilemma over this latest case, keeping our intrepid heroine constantly on her toes. The authors refuse to allow for any pat answers, and all parties involved are constantly discovering more about themselves and exactly what the cost might be for each belief and stance taken. Betrayal looms around every corner as a clever killer slinks deliciously between these pages.
Acts of Malice is actually deceptively simplistic on the surface, working on many levels at once while the main criminal plot elements often take a back seat to equally intriguing elements of a more personal nature. It's these overlapping areas that prove to be the most interesting, when personal convictions, passions, and idealism run into one another. Nina Reilly is a fully developed protagonist, but that doesn't mean she is always confident or invariably makes the right choices. In fact, her mistakes and failures are what truly flesh out the character, and it's this understanding of human nature that makes the O'Shaughnessys' novels such gripping and satisfying reading experiences.