One Cool Lawman

The Tough Guy
& the Toddler

While She Was Sleeping

Whispers & Lies

One Tough Avenger
by Diane Pershing
(SRS #1497, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27567-0
Readers of the SRS series will recognize Diane Pershing's Shannon Coyle, the founder of the "Last House on the Block." In this series Shannon emerges as the principal character. She is an attorney committed to causes, founding the house to help those who have no place else to go in their quest for justice. She has conscripted some of her attorney friends to donate some of their time as well.

The story opens as Shannon hurries to open the Last House one morning and notices a pile of rags which she quickly identifies as an unconsciousness man, who she has seen before and believes to be homeless. Closer examination reveals that he has been badly beaten and she summons the medics for transport to a hospital.

Shannon absolutely cannot let anything rest and she shows up at the hospital to find out who the man is and to see whether or not he needs help. Upon regaining consciousness he finds he does not remember who he is immediately, but in his mind he hears a small voice identified as Jamie begging him for his help.

He is in reality Mitchell Connor, an industry titan who has taken a leave of absence. In the building of his fortune his wife and son slipped away to the workings of the divorce court. He remembers who he is finally and recalls that his ex wife had taken son Jamie with her to California on a visit to “find herself.”  Midway through the visit he received a call from his son begging him for help. Responding to this call Mitchell arrived too late. He found his wife and son had drowned in a suspicious accident.

 Another worrisome revelation is that his very wealthy ex-wife had changed her will leaving her entire estate to the cult of JonahDawn. Since this organization was a very recent acquaintance of his ex-wife, he took a leave of absence to investigate.

 Meanwhile Shannon has accumulated a collection of people the JonahDawn Foundation has defrauded or cheated and she is also hot on their trail. When it is time for Mitchell to be released, in the best of romantic novel traditions, Shannon offers him a place to stay. Togetherness breeds in this case a partnership or attorney client relationship. Giving Shannon carte blanche is all she needs.

 And on another front, Shannon finds that Mitchell the man is all she needs as well. The characters are fashioned with a thought to variety and the supporting cast plays a greater role than usual. Some members of this supporting cast have appeared in other novels, bringing a sense of unity to the series.

Mitchell has the tragic guilt associated with his ex-wife and son's death that seems insurmountable, juxtaposed to Shannon's strange kind of baggage. She is short, Rubenesque and driven to right as many wrongs as possible. Self conscious about these things, the ways in which these two come together is peppered with humor and warmth.

The pacing is exceptional as Pershing adroitly balances the growing romance with the need to discover the circumstances of his family's death.

--Thea Davis

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