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Malice    by Robert K. Tanenbaum order for
by Robert K. Tanenbaum
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Robert K. Tanenbaum continues - from Fury and Counterplay - his ongoing saga of the Karp/Ciampi family's struggle against evil in Malice. Family members include Manhattan DA Butch Karp, his outlaw wife Marlene Ciampi, saintly Lucy, and her twin younger brothers Giancarlo and Zak. Lucy is now in a relationship with cowboy Ned Blanchet, and a coterie of allies on both sides of the law help the family in their explosive encounters with supervillains. This time, Taos Indian shaman John Jojola, mad mystic David Grale, and Vietnamese gangster Tran Do Vinh are joined by Basque leader Santacristina.

This nineteenth episode opens in 1603 England with the Star Chamber trial of Sir Walter Raleigh, followed by his execution in a gross miscarriage of justice - the trial has a tenuous relationship to the subsequent plot. In the twenty-first century, Butch Karp is on medical leave after being shot by a rival in Counterplay. He hopes - he's not certain - that sociopath Andrew Kane is dead, and is determined to track down whoever else was responsible for unleashing gun-toting terrorists on innocent schoolchildren. Grale comes up with a name, Jamys Kellagh, an alias for Kane's puppetmaster. Once out of hospital, Butch is invited to join a group of retired and semi-retired professionals, the Sons of Liberty Breakfast Club and Girl-Watching Society - their first topic of discussion is Walter Raleigh's case, and Butch feels that he's being assessed by the others. Why? He also fears there's a traitor in his inner circle.

Next we spend time with ace reporter Ariadne Stupenagel and her lover Gilbert Murrow, and wonder why someone is trying to kill her. A close associate of Butch's is approached to join a very powerful secret society. Lucy Karp dreams of being buried alive, while speaking in Basque. And an old friend's brother, Mikey O'Toole asks for Karp's help with a court case in Idaho, challenging his Star Chamber suspension as a university baseball coach for recruiting violations. With time to spare, Butch agrees to help. Marlene gets involved in a related investigation of white supremacists, leading to a friendship with Basque community leader Santacristina, and her offer to help him find what happened to his missing daughter. In parallel, Lucy follows a Celtic language trail that leads to tragedy. And there's a burgeoning plot for some sort of attack in NY City - but who or what is the target?

Naturally, the good guys sort most of it out and win another round in Malice, drawing Santacristina into their inner circle for future endeavors, but also adding to their enemies a secret society that's murdered and manipulated to assure its own power and profit for centuries. Though the series is starting to get weighed down by all the baggage it carries, I will be interested to see where it heads next - and whether evil mastermind Andrew Kane shows up again.

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