|Plot Summary of Clutching at Straws|
Dunne, Apr 2003, 22.95, 240 pp.
Vic Vigoda hires Lefty Wright to steal a package from the safe of Judge Chancellor. Lefty grabs the job as the pay is great, $15K for under fifteen minutes to perform an easy heist. However when Lefty enters the bedroom with the safe, the murdered body of the judge greets him. Almost immediately two cops charge into the house and arrest Lefty for killing Chancellor.
Lefty knows he is already in deep trouble, but adding to his woes is that the DA is running for office and sees this case as an easy media victory to further his ambitions. Lefty asks San Francisco private investigator Jake Diamond to learn why Vic would set him up to take the fall. Jake makes inquiries, but mostly concentrates on who owned a valuable Rolex found near the body. As he tries to learn the identity of the owner, he wonders about the motive. As he digs deeper into the case, bodies pile up as someone is bumping off anyone remotely related and potentially able to provide information that could free Lefty.
Though readers will need a calculator to keep score of the corpses, fans of action-packed murder mysteries will enjoy this tale. The story line is loaded with non-stop hyper energy, as the audience will compute the correlation between alcohol drinking and homicides. Fans of mass homicide investigative tales will want to follow Diamond as he steps over bodies while making the rounds of the streets of San Francisco.
Harriet Klausner, Resident Scholar
|"San Francisco private investigator Jake Diamond is called upon to prove the innocence of a small-time crook charged with the murder of a prominent judge. The investigation leads Jake to a fifteen year old crime and cover-up."
Omarba, Resident Scholar
|"Lefty Wright loves his work, and Lefty knows a piece of cake when it's offered. Fifteen grand in cool cash to get into a safe that he could crack with both arms tied behind his back. The house is empty, the wall safe is in an upstairs bedroom, and as Lefty slips in through a kitchen window he figures to be out again in less than twenty minutes. Instead, fifteen minutes later, Lefty finds himself face down on the bedroom floor, his arms handcuffed behind his back, surrounded by police, and nose-to-nose with a prominent San Francisco Criminal Court Justice who's dead body lies underneath the bed with a large knife in the chest. Lefty tries convincing the SFPD that the Judge was stabbed and stashed before he came on the scene, but no one is listening. The police are too excited about cracking a high profile murder case in record time to pay attention. When Lefty Wright finally gets his one phone call, he calls the one person who he hopes will hear him out. Jake Diamond. In his second outing, the easy going private investigator attempts to prove Lefty's innocence while investigating a recent kidnapping and a fifteen year old homicide which may or may not be related to Lefty's dilemma. Traveling from San Francisco to the avocado fields of central California to the sound stages of a film shoot in Denver, Diamond's suspects seem to have one thing in common; they are in no condition to talk by the time Jake gets to them. J. L. Abramo has provided a fast-moving, humorous escapade which more than meets the expectations promised by his first award-winning Jake Diamond novel, 'Catching Water in a Net.'
Richard Long , Resident Scholar
|Review Analysis of Clutching at Straws|
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Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
Composition of Book
descript. of violence and chases - 13.3%
Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives - 43.3%
Feelings, relationships, character bio/development - 23.3%
How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) - 20%
Tone of story
- very humorous
How difficult to spot villain?
- Difficult, but some clues given
Time/era of story:
- present (2000-2010)
What % of story relates directly
to the mystery, not the subplot?
Misc. Murder Plotlets
- Proving innocence of very obvious suspect
Kind of investigator
- hard boiled/private eye
Kid or adult book?
- Adult or Young Adult Book
Murder Mystery (killer unknown)
- private investigator
How sensitive is this character?
- sensitive to others' feelings
- Smarter than most other characters
- mostly 1st
Accounts of torture and death?
- moderately detailed references to deaths
How many deaths?
Amount of dialog
- significantly more dialog than descript