Monday, March 01, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Frame-Up by John F. Dobbyn

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Frame-Up by John F. Dobbyn. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Frame-Up by John F. Dobbyn

by
A Michael Knight and Lex Devlin Mystery

Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-63-5 (1933515635)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-63-2 (9781933515632)
Publication Date: March 2010
List Price: $25.95

Review: Friendships past and present, new and old, are tested when a man is murdered and another is charged with the crime in Frame-Up, the second thriller in the Michael Knight and Lex Devlin series by John F. Dobbyn.

Three boys grew up in the same neighborhood in Boston. Best friends as youths, they took different paths as adults. Lex Devlin went to Harvard Law School and became one of Boston's more prominent trial attorneys; Matt Ryan became a priest; and Dominic Santangelo took over as Don for one of New Englands most notorious crime families. A half century later, two other young men became friends while attending Harvard Law, but they, too, took divergent paths upon graduation. Michael Knight became a junior partner in the firm headed by Lex Devlin; John McKendrick became legal counsel for the local mob. All their lives come together when McKendrick is killed by a car bomb, and Peter Santangelo, Dominic's son, is accused of the murder. Dominic asks Devlin to defend his son, but everything about Dominic and his "profession" offends Devlin. Is their past friendship enough of a reason to get involved?

Matt Ryan, now Monsignor Ryan, brings the two old friends together, and Devlin agrees to defend Peter and though Michael Knight has a personal connection to the case, Devlin assigns him to investigate. He follows leads to London and Amsterdam, where a criminal syndicate is involved in trafficking forged art masterpieces. It soon becomes clear that there is no one involved he can truly trust ... but then again, can Michael be trusted to be objective?

Frame-Up is an electrifying thriller, not so much a legal thriller (despite the abundance of lawyers present) but rather one of international intrigue. The relationship between Devlin and Michael is one of father-figure and son, mentor and apprentice, reasoned counsel and impetuous zeal; it's an appealing combination and one of the strongest elements of the story. Still, this is a murder mystery, with a plot that is well paced, replete with credible misdirection, that keeps the reader guessing as to who killed John McKendrick and why. Frame-Up will appeal to those who appreciate an exciting, gripping story with well-drawn characters; it is highly recommended.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Frame-Up and to Oceanview Publishing for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): After graduating from Harvard Law with his closest friend John McKedrick, Michael Knight takes a job with his mentor, legendary trial attorney Lex Devlin, while John becomes sole associate of a notorious mob lawyer.

Michael never lost hope that John McKedrick would escape to "cleaner pastures" -- until John is murdered in a car bombing bearing the signature of his questionable clientele. How could two friends who were so close have taken such wildly divergent paths?

In the wake of McKedrick's murder, three men who took their own deviating paths will meet for the first time in forty years. Matt Ryan, a priest, Dominic Santangelo, a mafia don, and Lex Devlin put the past aside to focus on a present concern: Dominic's son has been charged with John McKedrick's murder.

At Lex's urging, Michael Knight reluctantly agrees to represent the alleged bomber. In building a defense, Michael is drawn into a high-stakes art fraud that leads him from the seediest parts of Boston to the sophisticated Amsterdam inner sanctum of international crime.

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