Attorney Nina Reilly has moved back to her hometown in Monterey County, CA, after a traumatic incident. But things aren't much easier back home. One night she wakes to a phone call informing her that her young assistant and friend is thought to be dead in a fire he allegedly started.

Luckily, Wish is found alive, but his friend was killed, and now Wish is charged with murder. Nina believes his adamant avowal that he didn't start the fire and begins to look into the matter, with the help of her private detective lover Paul. Things don't look good when the case takes a turn that no one expected.

PRESUMPTION OF DEATH is a satisfying read, although not as stunning as O'Shaughnessy's last book, Unfit to Practice. The plot twists never feel contrived and, as always, the strongest aspect of O'Shaughnessy's work are the characters. Wish has a more prominent role, and Nina is always a pleasure to spend time with. (Aug., 400 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Robyn Glazer