Case of Lies (Nina Reilly Series #11)by Perri O'Shaughnessy, Laural Merlington
For Nina Reilly, the mountain town of Lake Tahoe is home. It’s where she forged a successful career as a tough, resourceful attorney - and raised her teenage son, Bob, alone. Back from a stint in Monterey, where her love life took a tumble, Nina has returned to her Tahoe law office with her old friends Sandy Whitefeather and Sandy’s son, Wish. It isn’t long before she has a new client whose wife was shot and killed during a casino-district robbery two years before. The police have no suspects, and the robbery victims, three students, lied about their identities and are hiding outside California and the reach of the court.
Two of the witnesses have fled to a village not far from the home of Bob’s father, Kurt Scott, in Germany. As Nina tries to unravel the mystery of one violent Tahoe night, a harrowing journey begins - one that takes her from the dark underworld of Tahoe’s casinos to the halls of a prestigious East Coast university to Europe and an emotional reunion with Kurt. As old feelings are rekindled, Nina’s case turns violent. Everyone has something to hide - the brilliant but unstable mathematics student who has made an astonishing discovery, the owner of a motel where the shooting took place, and the shooter, who has turned the whole case into a gigantic lie.
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Case of Lies
By Perri O'Shaughnessy
Random HousePerri O'Shaughnessy
All right reserved.
Nina Reilly lay on her stomach, her eyes closed, a white washcloth draped over her backside. The endless mental lists had fled from her head, lulled by Chelsi's electronic ambient music and her soothing hands on Nina's back. Now Nina kept slipping into a snooze, the kind where you disappear and then snap back your head as your senses return.
Let's see, she had dreamed a little dream about an old woman approaching, babbling something. This apparition had a dreadful aspect, as though if Nina ran away she would become gigantic and even more frightening. She kept coming closer, the hideous old witch, whispering so low Nina couldn't quite-then she understood, and deep dream relief came over her.
All the old lady wanted was a piggyback ride, then she'd go away. Nina crouched and the old lady hopped on-
"Lots of my clients take naps," Chelsi said as the snap thing happened and Nina's eyes jerked open.
"And miss the whole massage? No way," Nina said.
"Your body will remember."
"Big deal. This is too good to spend asleep."
"We could talk a little if you want. Some people just like to relax." She was stroking Nina's sides, almost lifting her up from the table, her hands strong and the points of her fingernails digging in now and then. Chelsi was a tall ponytailed girl in her early twenties, and the smile she always wore seemed to be for real.
"You talk," Nina said. "I'll just moan here and there."
"All right. Let's see. Well, last week when I worked on you for the first time, I thought, She's somebody. I even thought you might have used a fake name. That would have been fine, by the way. LeAnn Rimes came here when she was appearing at Caesars last year and wrote down that she was somebody named Ms. Exter. It's not an insurance situation, so who cares what you want to call yourself?"
Chelsi waited, but her hands kept working and Nina didn't respond.
"Dr. Whittaker sends me all his headaches. He says ninety percent of the time it's tension and he says I have good hands. He comes to me himself. Oops, I'm not supposed to say that. Anyway, my dad says I got the curious gene. He says I ought to be a detective. Wow, you are so tight around the neck."
"For instance," Chelsi said, then pressed hard, her hands making tiny squeezing motions on the back of Nina's neck. She was using kukui-nut oil to baste her. One could die at the beginning of the hour and Chelsi would never know it until her chime went off. "I'm gonna say you're a swimmer."
"Whenever I can," Nina managed to say.
Chelsi laughed in delight. "I knew because you have these excellent muscles in your shoulders, square shoulders and a tiny waist. A swimmer's back. I am so good. Now, your neck, I've seen that a lot with people with big pressures at work. Last week when I did that scalp massage you practically melted. It's definitely the cause of your headaches. That or your eyes. I'll work on them in a minute.
"And then there's this." Chelsi's finger delicately traced the scar along Nina's side, still sore after almost three years. "You don't have to tell me or anything. I'm putting oil on it because you may not have incorporated that place back into your body and you need to have it witnessed. It's part of you and it's nice and neat-"
"It's ugly, come on." Nina's voice came out harsh.
"Never mind, I'll move on, just let me touch it again next week, okay?"
"It's an exit-wound scar," Nina said. "From a thirty-two-caliber pistol fired by a woman in a courtroom."
"I knew. I just knew it. You're a policewoman!"
"What if I said I'm a bank robber?"
Chelsi's hands paused. "I don't believe that. It wouldn't bother me if it was true, though, I have to admit. I had a guy from Vegas in here who told me about how he embezzled from his boss at a credit agency. Even hustlers suffer from stress and hold it in their muscles. But you're not a bank robber. Your haircut is too primo. Long layers, really nice, no spray. And you don't wear much makeup. Your style is all wrong for a bank robber."
Nina didn't answer. She imagined Chelsi's big-haired mama of a bank robber.
"Let's work on your neck some more." She dug her fingers under Nina's skull at the back. It should have hurt. Instead, it was a catharsis, a stream of accumulated tension breaking up and flowing away. "You are kidding me, right? Although you don't work at Tahoe long before you realize we're all running some kind of hustle. Look at all the rich people who rent a garage on the Nevada side and claim they're Nevada residents so they won't have to pay state income tax in California. I hustle a little myself. You're paying me on the cash-discount basis, right? It's a tax-free zone up here. The showgirls make so much money outside the shows doing entertaining, you wouldn't believe it. No offense, but I also know you're not a showgirl."
"Too petite. And, you know, not in your twenties anymore. So what do you really do?"
"Law. I'm a lawyer." The hands stopped, and Nina wondered if Chelsi would slide out of her cheerful mood. Confessing her profession at a cocktail party often resulted in a step back and eyes averted from hers, as though she'd admitted she was a hooker.
Both necessary evils, she said to herself.
But Chelsi took no offense. "Right! Nina Reilly. I read about you in the paper. You do murder trials. Keep your head down. Relax."
"I do all kinds of law work. Whatever comes through the door. Not just murder trials."
"Well, that might explain your neck. Is that where the headaches start?"
"Actually, they start right in my temples, even when I haven't been reading," Nina said.
"Let me try something," Chelsi told her. She rolled Nina over and began massaging her face, starting with her forehead and temples, circling the eye sockets with expert fingers, prodding under her jaw. "It's a Tibetan technique. Kum Nye." Again, the relief was both subtle and intense. Nina felt her jaw go slack for maybe the first time since childhood.
"You poor thing. You need to come in at least once a week for a couple of months. I can do more for you than those pills you were prescribed. You have stored-up tension everywhere."
"It's a deal," Nina muttered.
There was a long silence while Chelsi did some acupressure on Nina's cheekbones and around her sinuses, then did that dainty pressing around her eyes again. "I'm sorry you got shot," she volunteered finally.
Nobody had ever said that to Nina at the hospital or afterward. Her brother, Matt, had been furious with her for taking the murder case in the first place. Her son, Bob, had been inarticulate with shock. She had been given flowers, kudos for catching a killer, but not a lot of sympathy. In fact, looking back, there had been a tinge of "you asked for it" in the reactions of the courtroom personnel. You take murder cases, you take your chances, was the attitude.
Nina realized that she still felt resentful about that, but even as the realization came, the resentment was going away, in waves accompanying the long strokes of Chelsi's hands.
So it was true, you did hold emotions in your muscles.
Chelsi was as healing in her speech as in her hands. She was working Nina's jaw hinges again. "Whenever you start to feel tense, yawn. Do you like what you do?"
"When I win. When I do good work."
They lapsed back into silence for some time while Nina's shoulders and biceps got a final workout, Chelsi leaning over Nina from above like an angel of mercy.
"Let's give you a foot rub. Are you good at it?"
"Now, see, I ask women that, and hardly ever do they say yes. The guys never hesitate. They say, 'Sure.' You're awesome to have that kind of confidence. What is it really like? I mean, really?" She oiled Nina's foot and started tweaking and pulling on her toes, as if they had muscles too.
"Practicing law? Well, a case starts with an immediate problem. Your client is in jail, or your client's about to be evicted, or your client's marriage is falling apart. You try to organize this real-life chaos into a theory or story that calms things down and will resolve the problem in a fair and orderly way. You get all the information and you try to work the system so your client has the outcome he or she deserves."
"How do you come up with this theory?"
"You read other legal cases and try to organize the facts so that your client comes out the hero, not the villain. Then you try to convince the judge that your version is the best version. Because the other guy always has a good story, too."
"You don't try to get the client what they want?"
"Sometimes they don't know. Sometimes they are unrealistic. Sometimes the system can't give them what they deserve. All the system can really do is lock people up or transfer money around. It can't bring back a loved one, for instance, and sometimes that's all the client wants. What's the matter?" Chelsi's hands had faltered, and she sighed.
"You make me think of a loved one I lost," she said.
The chime rang.
"That darn thing," Chelsi said. She gave Nina's feet one final squeeze and said, "You take as long as you need to get dressed." The door shut behind her, the soft New Age chords switched off abruptly, and Nina, deposited back into rude reality, blinked open her eyes to a shelf of unguents and towels and strong mountain sun filtering through the pines outside Chelsi's window.
She sat up reluctantly and slid off the table. While she dressed, she thought about Chelsi. She pulled on her blue silk jacket last and brushed her hair in the mirror above the sink, then consulted her watch. Court in thirty minutes.
She opened the door.
In the cubbyhole office, Chelsi hung up the phone and said, "Feeling better?"
"Much better. There's one thing I wanted to ask you. For about two minutes, when you were working on my face, I suddenly got the most splitting headache. Then it disappeared like air, and now I'm fine."
"That was your headache quota for the week. It let go all at once. You'll have a good week."
"Thanks. Really. I'm glad I found you. What do I owe you today?"
"Not a thing. And nothing next week, either." Chelsi folded her arms over the flowers embroidered on her smock. "I'd like to ask you a favor instead. My uncle Dave has-he needs-he has a legal thing. Would you talk to him?"
Nina put on her sunglasses and laid her business card and fifty dollars on the desk. "Like I said, Chelsi, anything that comes through the door. The first consultation is free."
"It's urgent. My dad and I have been trying to help him find a lawyer fast." Fast usually meant too late. Nina grimaced. "He's charged with a crime?"
"No! No! He was a victim. He and my aunt Sarah. Two years ago. There was a robbery in a motel they were staying at near Prize's and-and my aunt Sarah was shot." Chelsi gave Nina's body a look and Nina could almost feel her curious fingers on the scar again. "The South Lake Tahoe police couldn't find the shooter. Uncle Dave went to a lawyer who helped him file a suit against the motel. For-for-"
"Right. Something like that. And he put in a bunch of John Does like the lawyer said, so when he found out who the robber was he could do a-"
"Substitute in the robber as a defendant," Nina said. "There must be a wrongful-death cause of action too."
"That sounds right. Even if the police didn't feel they had enough evidence to arrest the robber, Uncle Dave could still sue him for damages. But now there's a court deadline or something where the motel is going to have the suit thrown out. Uncle Dave drinks too much, you know? He's broke and he's broken. My dad and I can put in some money to help, but-anyway, would you talk to him and look at his papers? For two massages?" She handed Nina her money back.
"I'll be getting the better of the barter," Nina said. "Have your uncle Dave call my office and set up a time with Sandy, my secretary."
"Great! My aunt Sarah was such a good person. It can't happen that the universe could let her die and not punish anyone. She was only thirty-eight, and here's the worst, it still makes me choke up to talk about it, she was pregnant. Their first baby. They had been trying so long. It makes me so sad and mad. My mother left us when I was three, and Aunt Sarah was always there for me. Anyway, I appreciate it."
"I'll see you next week, then."
"We won't talk about it during your next massage. It's bad for relaxation."
"I'm sorry about your aunt, Chelsi," Nina said.
Chelsi gave her a pained smile.
"Thanks. I can tell you mean it. I know you can't bring her back, but-anyway, thank you. Now here's your assignment for the week. Yawn whenever you feel tense," Chelsi said.
Two days later, a fresh mug of Italian espresso in hand, stockinged heels riding the edge of her desk, Nina stole a moment to reflect.
The long workday had begun. On the drive down Pioneer Trail that morning toward the office, Nina had watched the bicyclists and joggers with even more than her usual envy. They were out grabbing the last glories of fall, so damn happy, smelling the fresh tang of high snows and watching fluttering dry leaves while she contemplated her day, the bitter child-custody battle coming up, along with two grisly settlement conferences, all to be conducted in the windowless courtroom of the irascible Judge Flaherty.
Long ago, when law began, the advocates and judges must have met in tree-shaded glades, toga-clad, birdsong the accompaniment to their work, courtesy and dignity their style, and-
-And of course, as a woman, she would have been pouring the wine from the ewer, not arguing the case. But one could fantasize at 7:45 in the morning while watching birds and squirrels chase around the autumnal marsh that rolled out toward a distant, twinkling Lake Tahoe.
After several months in Monterey, she and her teenage son, Bob, had returned to Tahoe.
Excerpted from Case of Lies by Perri O'Shaughnessy Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Perri O’Shaughnessy is the pen name for sisters Mary and Pamela O’Shaughnessy, who both live in California. They are the authors of eleven bestselling Nina Reilly novels as well as a collection of short crime fiction, Sinister Shorts.
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This was the first book out of the series (that I found to be quite extensive) that I read and it was easy to follow even though I didn't read the first ten. One of the suspects, whose story we get into from his point of view, was fascinating (even the heavy math parts were fascinating). The plot was gutsy with several plot twists that I didn't predict. Also, the fact that a math mystery that has yet to be uncovered is included in the plot and seeming motive is very intriguing. These three facts redeem the book, but overall it seemed to lack... "bang" I guess. It was smart and adventurous and warm, but the plotline seemed a little bland. Rating: PG-13 for two brief and undetailed sexual situations, brief gore, and violence.
This is one of my favorite in the Nina Reilly series, and I suspect the authors favor it as well, as they seem to have rekindled their passion for it. I'm no math major, but its role in the plot was fascinating. Plus, the recurring characters all seemed to move ahead in a very natural rhythm in this one. I started reading Perri O'Shaughnessy years ago because I couldn't imagine how two sisters managed to write together, especially long distance. Now, I don't care how they do it -- it just works.
I was terribly disappointed with this Audio book because of the plot and the reader. Laurel Merlington was a bad choice to read the book she can only do young American women accents. She butchered most of the male voices, the other older woman lawyer and all the foreign accents. It's clear she has never heard a German speak. The German girl's accent was annoyingly wrong. As for the plot, from the pointless foray into mathematics to the unlikely happenings e.g. where did this unsophisticated, rather stupid shooter get money from to go to Germany and find the witnesses? Why wasn't Nina Reilly shot at the masseuse's parlor? Why would the shooter hang around a Lake Tahoe? Much of the book does not make sense. I am sorry I bought it.
I have been so disappointed in the last several of Perri O'Shaughnessy books that I waited until this one came out in paperback. Really enjoyed it, although the math was too much for me, I skipped over most of that part and still enjoyed the story. Nina is still 'screwy' but I liked her much better than I did in the last 2 books. The excerpt of 'The Keeper of the Keys' in the back of the paperback 'Case of Lies' has me looking forward to the October release.
Overall, I really enjoy the Nina Reilly novels. However, this one just fell flat. Perri O got into way too much detail in developing the math characters. At times I felt like I was back in college studying calculus.
As a huge fan of Nina Reilly, I can't believe how disappointed I was with her latest adventure. Unless you are fascinated by math (I am not), this book bears no comparison to Nina's previous, interesting cases. I skipped numerous pages on math formulas, etc. TOO much detail! As one of my favorite heroines, I can only hope the next book returns with Nina on a case not so bogged down in subject matter that detracts from the overall story.
As a fan of this author, I always await her books with relish. This does not disappoint overall. The story grabs you instantly as there seems to be no real solution to the original murder. Then, when more bodies begin to mount you become more than curious. The road to this conclusion is very exciting, except for one particular explanation for the original murder which may disappoint or confuse fans of this author. This is a quick read with lots going on and a new romantic interest for the heroine which is a nice change from the dramatic relationship with Paul we have had to deal with over time. For anyone wishing to have a great summer read, this is for you.
The Misses O'Shaugenessys have written a novel that I feel is completely out of character when compared to their other works. Nina Reilly has become one of my favorite characters, but this book took her out of the realistic likeable character I imagine her to be. Unless one is steeped in higher mathematics, it is difficult to get into the story. I admit I am not well versed in the subject, but the average reader would be hard-pressed to understand the intricate and detailed formulas used extensively in the content. Since the dialogue contained so many mathematical references, I found myself loosing the plot line. I did finish the book however, but I would not recommend it to anyone.
Laural Merlington is a keen and nimble reader who is able to give each character not only a distinctive personality but also reflects moods and emotions with practiced voice. Thus, whether Nina Reilly is fulfilling her role as a tough attorney or feeling more intimate emotions listeners become involved, all due to Merlington's performance. She delivers again in 'Case Of Lies.' The 11th thriller in the popular Nina Reilly series finds Nina back on home ground - in her Lake Tahoe law office. The case she faces may be old (two years) but it's far from finished. A new client, David Hanna, comes to her to relate the story of how his wife was shot and killed during a robbery at a casino. He feels the casino should be responsible for not providing adequate security. The shooter was never caught but there were witnesses. The victims of the robbery - three MIT students originally lied about their identities and now are staying in California to avoid being called by a Nevada court. As Nina tries to track down the truth about what happened on that night two years ago she treks to Germany to interview two of witnesses. As it turns out, they are in a village not far from where her son's father lives. Affairs of justice and affairs of the heart are mingled in this absorbing story by Perri O'Shaughnessy. - Gail Cooke
This book was the most boring I have ever read. If you are a Math Major you could enjoy it. There was too much math and not enough excitement that usually is in a Nina Reilly book. I love all these books but this one was very disappointing.
With her teenage son accompanying her, attorney Nina Reilly feels she has gone complete circle having recently left her former lover Paul van Wagoner behind in Carmel and returned to her hometown of South Lake Tahoe to practice law. Her masseuse Chelsi offers a deal of two rubdowns in exchange for legal advice to her Uncle Dave Hanna, which Nina agrees. --- Two years ago, someone robbed three people at the Ace High Motel, but before leaving, that person shot and killed Dave¿s pregnant wife, schoolteacher Sarah. No one was caught and the three witnesses quietly fled town. Dave sued the motel, but ran out of money and wants to drop the case. His niece and brother-in-law feel he should pursue his suit. Nina accepts the case, but also hires the son of her office assistant, private investigator Wish Whitefeather to see if he can uncover the identity of the killer. Neither realized at the time the twists the investigation will take involving card shark mathematicians Yale grads, wealthy Texans, a trek to Germany, a serial killer and the return of Nina¿s ex husband.--- CASE OF LIES is an exhilarating legal thriller in which Reilly is at her best in her latest appearance, which says a lot since this series is consistently a best seller. The story line seizes the audience from the moment most of the players appear on the stage starting with readers wondering what the connection between two blackjack card-counting experts have with a motel murder and other spins follow that all seem reasonable, even the final chiller. Though more investigate than legal, series fans will immeasurably relish the newest life of Reilly CASE OF LIES.--- Harriet Klausner