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Unlucky In Law    by Perri O'Shaughnessy order for
Unlucky In Law
by Perri O'Shaughnessy
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Defense attorney Nina Reilly has left her friends, relatives and business in Lake Tahoe to be with her lover, Paul van Wagoner in the Monterey area, in Carmel. But when he brings out his grandmother's ring, she starts to have second thoughts about the coastal lifestyle and the implications for her business (including her valued secretary, Sandy Whitefeather), her son Bob, family and associates.

In the meantime, Nina has taken on 'her second murder case in three months', as second chair to her old mentor, Klaus Pohlmann. Their perpetually unlucky client, Stefan Wyatt took on the job of digging up the corpse of an old Russian gentleman, Constantin Zhukovsky, and the medal buried with him. Digging down through the soil, Stefan unearthed another body, that of Zhukovsky's daughter Christina. Stefan took out Constantin's bones, put Christina back and headed home. On the way, he was stopped for a minor traffic infraction. Of course, the police officer noticed bones in his back seat, and followed the trail back to find a fresh corpse in an old grave. Hence the murder charge.

While trying to come to terms with the possibility of a new life, Nina begins to argue the case - earlier than she expected when Klaus (who seems very ill prepared for it) starts to delegate everything to her. Indeed, she begins to wonder if Klaus is up to the job. Despite the fact that her client's blood has been found in the dead woman's apartment, Nina believes his claim of innocence. There are two brothers implicated in the case - Stefan's brother Gabriel Wyatt, and Christina's brother Alex Zhukovsky - along with ties to the murders of the Romanovs in Russia, and a modern Russian agent who's after the Zhukovsky bones at any cost.

With help from Paul and pathologist Dr. Ginger Hirabayashi, Nina steadily pursues evidence, which takes her to an unusual conclusion, one that comes surprisingly out of left field. This is the first that I've read of this long-running series and I found it great fun, a combination of legal and cozy mystery - if you like either sub-genre, then you'll enjoy Unlucky In Law.

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