Deadly Dining by William Manchee

 

MysteryDeadly Dining by William MancheeReview by Molly

William Manchee’s Deadly Dining A Stan Turner Mystery set in the late 1990s opens with Stan ruminating about his wife Rebekah’s mysterious illness.  7 May, 1997 Stan has just brought Rebekah home from the hospital following a parathyroidectomy; he hoped life would soon be back to normal after more than a year of illness culminating with stroke like symptoms and the surgery.

Settling in for the evening the pair are shocked as the evening news on TV recounts how 4 patrons enjoying their dinner at local eatery, Emilio’s Italian Restaurant, have suddenly become deathly ill, have collapsed during dinner and have been rushed to Medical City Hospital where 2 of the 4 are DOA and the other 2 are fighting for their lives.

Stan and Rebekah have eaten in the restaurant in the past. Emilio Belucci and his retired model wife, Eva, have been luckier than many beginning a new business; the restaurant has flourished from its opening.  And, now this.

It is not long before Stan and his law firm, Turner & Waters are retained by Emilio to represent waiter Ricard Ricci who is the prime suspect in the poisoned Parmesan Cheese topping deaths of Bill and Donna Rice, and John Richardson.  Only Richardson’s wife Sandy recovers from the incident.

It is not long before Turner & Waters find themselves facing three situations at once.  Paula Waters, partner with the law firm, will handle the defense of Ricardo Ricci, while Stan undertakes a Chapter 11 bankruptcy designed to protect Pakistani immigrant, Ram, Ramadan Bakira, who invested $250,000 in a local grocery, Pakimart, specializing in ethnics foods.

Firm associate Jodie Marshall is given the task to prepare a defense for one Bob Larson who in the exercise of a Good Samaritan situation seems to have been over zealous and was the cause of jewelry store owner Herb Stein to be shot by thief Michael Mahoney.  Stein is now suing Larson for pain and suffering.

Jodie soon has her ducks in a row prior to her court battle defending Larson, and offers to give Paula a hand in helping with the investigation needed to prepare the defense for Ricardo as Stan is busy with the unexpected problems surrounding what should have been a shut and dried bankruptcy.

Adding to ongoing dilemma is the fact that Stan keeps disappearing for several hours at a time.  Suddenly straight arrow Stan is coming under increasing scrutiny by the women on his staff who suspect that he is having an affair.

As always writer Manchee has skillfully woven an intricate narrative complete with a very public triple homicide complete with film of the death throes replayed on TV. Nevertheless the perpetrator responsible for the gruesome crime as well as the motivation have Paula befuddled as she tries to sort how the two couples and the accused waiter might have crossed paths.  Even if a crime for hire, Ricardo as a hired killer seems a bit thin.

Paula Waters usually relishes a case filled with twists and turns however when she thinks she finally has it all figured out, her trial outline prepared and is ready for the Monday court date Dec 1, 1997 she is dismayed to learn two of her witnesses have disappeared. Paula’s dismay grows when Stan tells her he will hustle to help, but their whole premise surrounding the killings in the Belucci Restaurant have been in error, and, they have the weekend to get their facts and witnesses in order.

Between Stan’s preoccupations with the bankruptcy he is working on, helping Jodie Marshall, recently named as firm associate ready for her first trial with the Larson defense and Stan’s disappearing act; Paula is more than a little peeved with the man she would like to have had an affair with when she and he first began working together several years, books, before.

Filled with the twists and turns and the red herrings we have come to associate with Manchee and his Stan Turner mysteries, Deadly Dining is a marvelous addition to the growing body of work produced by this talented attorney writer who says he finds grist for his writing in the cases he has worked on in his lawyering work.

Settings are well defined, descriptive situations, locales, and behaviors all show an innate realization of the human mind and its workings.  Characters are well fleshed, bad guys are often really bad, and good guys may not really be all that good.  Surprises abound, ultimately the murders are solved satisfactorily as is Stan’s unexpected, rather loutish, behavior.

The law firm is intact, solvent and everyone in the office is ready for the next go round.

Hopefully the next Stan Turner Mystery is well into production and will be ready soon for review.

Happy to recommend Deadly Dining for those who enjoy a well written, fast paced, highly readable work sure to intrigue the most discerning reader.

More books by William Manchee

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