Sunday, March 23, 2008

MARKED MAN by William Lashner

By William Lashner
William Morrow/Harper Collins
ISBN: 978006072558
Hardback, 421 pages, $24.95
Genre: Mystery

Philadelphia Attorney Victor Carl wakes up one morning in the vestibule of his apartment building, his suit disheveled, socks missing, and the name Chantal Adair inscribed on his chest. Victor can’t remember what happened the prior night and is on a quest to find out, along with who Chantal Adair is. But his efforts are waylaid by a stubborn Greek woman on her deathbed, demanding he bring her son Charlie Kalakos home in return for a favor Victor’s father owes her. Charlie is wanted by the District Attorney’s Office and the FBI for stealing a Rembrandt painting from a museum. Charlie wants to return home to tell his mother goodbye but Charlie’s partners-in-crime would prefer he stay gone. While negotiating with the authorities as well as considering a shady offer by an art dealer/mercenary named Lavender Hill, Victor hires his own investigator to find Chantal Adair. To his surprise, a young girl with the same name disappeared the night Charlie and his gang stole the Rembrandt. Could the two crimes be connected?

Each outing with self-deprecating Victor Carl is a treat for readers who like a good mystery with wacky characters and a narrative voice that entertains throughout. A flawed man who thinks worse of himself than he actually is, Victor is tempted by fame and money with an internal monitoring system that allows him to step outside the bounds of law, but just barely. Victor, who seems to remain in a self-identity crisis, is joined this time by his partner, Beth Derringer, the moral gauge of their partnership. Lashner’s excellent style offers plenty of humor enmeshed within a good story and characters that just can’t be matched. This series is a hard one to top.

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