Monday, December 11, 2006

"The Last Stanza" by Jeremiah Healy

From: Cuddy Plus One by Jeremiah Healy, Crippen and Landru, 2003.

Healy's novels featuring Boston PI John Francis Cuddy are well regarded for their realism, topicality, and clear prose. His short work shows the same qualities.

In "The Last Stanza," Cuddy is hired by his attorney friend Steve Rothenberg to help the defense of Kirsten Tolst, a militant feminist professor accused in the shooting death of a male colleague, Mitchell Donadio, who recently denied her tenure. At the time of the shooting, Donadio, Tolst, and two other professors were alone in the faculty office building. Tolst claims to have been in the rest room when she heard the fatal shot.

Working from his knowledge of the suspects, the victim's limited mobility, and a copy of The Collected Works of Shakespeare Donadio appeared to be reading, Cuddy comes up with a plausible second suspect:

"But John, what if the jury doesn't appreciate all this?"

I said, "Sounds like your balliwick, Steve," as I stood and laid my bill on the top of his desk.

That's life.

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