Masterful storytelling ... gripping legal drama ... relentless suspense -- these are the hallmarks of Perri O'Shaughnessy's work. Critics hail her legal thrillers as "terrific ... will keep you turning the pages into the night" (USA Today) and "a real puzzler ... with twists diabolical enough to take to court" (The New York Times Book Review).
Now the New York Times bestselling author of Move to Strike returns with Writ of Execution, an electrifying tale that plunges attorney Nina Reilly into a shadowy world of high-stakes money and cold-blooded murder.
In the mountain resort town of South Lake Tahoe, Nina Reilly is known for taking on the underdog cases, the kind that can make -- or break -- her one-woman law practice. Her latest case begins in the middle of a summer night when she is called away from a very personal visit to her investigator Paul van Wagoner's hotel room to meet with a desperate new client at her office who gives her name as Jessie Potter. The frightened young woman has just hit a huge slot machine jackpot, and the men in suits are waiting to hand her the check just as soon as she tells them her real identity.
With time running out, Nina helps her client devise a brilliant plan to collect the money while keeping her true identity a secret. Unfortunately, powerful interests have lined up to grab the money. The gaming commission thinks the jackpot was rigged. The man sitting on the seat just before the jackpot hit says it's his, and he doesn't mind going outside the law to get it. And the wealthy man stalking Nina's client has retained an unscrupulous local lawyer, Jeff Riesner, to attack the jackpot winnings using a legal maneuver called a Writ of Execution. The odds of Jessie ever collecting are starting to look hopeless.
For Nina, what began as a fight for an underdog in federal court soon escalates into something very different and far more dangerous. Jessie has a secret, and she needs that money for a very good reason. By the time Nina discovers that Jessie is withholding vital information, it might be too late for her client and even for Nina herself.
Because somewhere in the darkening Tahoe night, people are dying. A cold-blooded, obsessed killer will stop at nothing -- including execution-style murder -- to get that jackpot in a case where the Writ of Execution has become more than a legal maneuver; it's a death warrant.
Sweeping from the glittering casinos of Tahoe to the drama of a packed courtroom to the darkness of a woman's secret past, Writ of Execution is spellbinding entertainment -- Perri O'Shaughnessy's most intricate and compelling novel to date.
A wild, just-barely-believable scenario jump-starts this serviceably written, well-paced and engaging courtroom thriller, seventh in a series by the bestselling duo (sisters Pamela and Mary O'Shaughnessy) who write under the pen name Perri. On an ordinary night at a Lake Tahoe casino, a young ex-Marine and Native American widow named Jessie Potter punches a button on a slot machine and winds up hitting the jackpot to the tune of $7 million. Rather than jumping for joy, she flees the casino, dragging computer nerd Kenny Leung, the man at the slot machine next to hers, along with her. Jessie, it is revealed, is being stalked and can't sign for her check, for fear of publicity. Desperate for a solution, she convinces Kenny to marry her so she can sign as Mrs. Leung, and to protect her interests, she hires lawyer Nina Reilly, back once more after her adventures in Move to Strike. The story takes off when Jessie's former father-in-law enters the picture with a wrongful death suit, claiming that Jessie killed his son, and a writ of execution that will seize all of Jessie's assets, including the $7 million. Meanwhile, key witnesses to Jessie's win keep turning up dead, and Nina and her arch rival, Jeff Riesner, face off in court. Although development of the interpersonal relationships is rushed, making them never quite as believable as they should be, and the language and dialogue are rendered predictably, the suspenseful and well-executed courtroom scenes provide ample payoff. In particular, the book's final third captivates with its scenes of wily courtroom negotiation. Readers will relish the myriad plot details and the procedural drama, and enjoy the cast of offbeat characters. Major ad/promo; author tour. (July 10) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 24, 2002
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Excerpt from Writ of Execution by Perri O'Shaughnessy
Kenny dumped the leased black Lexus in the parking lot at Prize's Lake Tahoe casino at precisely ten p.m. on July eighteenth. Sunday night, Milky Way spilling over the black mountain ridge in a sixty-degree arc, no sleep for thirty hours.
He had driven into the Sierra from Silicon Valley, festering in hundred-degree heat, without stopping. At an altitude of over six thousand feet, South Lake Tahoe had a different microclimate, much cooler and drier. He could see the ghostly reflections of old snow pockets on the mountains looming over the casino district. As he climbed out of the car, stuffing his pockets with the few things he intended to take with him, he began to shiver.
Pulling nonessentials from his wallet and leaving them on the seat, he slid the worthless credit cards and the two thousand in cash into the pocket of his black silk sport coat.
He opened the glove compartment. The Glock gleamed in there.
He pushed his specs up on his nose and stashed the gun in the inner pocket of his jacket. Money and a gun. So all-American.
Prize's would be his last stop. This had not been his original intention, but a decision had hardened in his mind as he drove up to the mountains. That morning, before his courage fled, he thought, I will tell them, and then I will spend the rest of my life making it up to them. I will be a kitchen boy. I will hire myself out for road construction. Anything. Somehow I will save them from what I did.
But as he drove alongside the surging American River, the idea of going to his parents with the news of his colossal failure began to seem pointless. He couldn't save them, and he didn't have the guts to face them.
They would find out soon enough.
The Five Happinesses restaurant would be sold first. He had worked at his family's Tahoe restaurant from the time he was eight years old, chopping vegetables and packing rice into small porcelain bowls, doing his homework in the back room with the Taiwanese news on the TV.
Then the frame house where his mother swept the porch each morning before going to the restaurant to cook, where he and his brother and sister had grown up, would have to go. He had ruined them all with his -- his overconfidence! his cockiness! The big visionary with the big ideas! If only he had died at birth and saved his parents the misery of his life. His brother Tan-Mo, stoic, solid, and destined for all the traditional successes, was in his second year at Stanford Med. Now Kenny had destroyed his life, too.
"I saved for thirty years, Tan-Kwo," Kenny's father had told him, using his Chinese name. "All consolidated. Savings, pension money, a loan against the restaurant fixtures." He had waved the check at Kenny while his mother watched, eyes watery, face perspiring above a boiling pot at the restaurant. Colleen, younger than her brothers by several years, had clicked away on her Nikon. "One, two, three, smile," she said. It was his parents' twenty-ninth anniversary.
Mr. Know-It-All, Mr. Brilliant Future, a shit-eating grin on his face, held out one hand for the check, shaking his father's hand with the other, a moment immortalized on Kodak paper in a steamy haze of bright colors that would never fade.
Four hundred fifty-seven thousand dollars. Years of hot summer days spent sweltering in the kitchen at the Five Happinesses, years of holidays skipped, luxuries scrimped, and birthdays ignored. He had taken away their past and their future. He had squandered it all.
"Your father believes in you, Tan-Kwo. I know how much that means to you. But ... what is this thing? This cityofgolddotcom?" his mother had asked him later that night.
"Just the City of Gold, Mom. The dotcom is only an address." In a fever of excitement about the check, his mind darting like a cursor around a thousand new possibilities now open to him, he had tried to explain.
"Sounds like dreams," she said when he finished.