Providing an exciting story that includes the highs and lows of Boston life, lawyer David Hosp's debut novel ranges from Beacon Hill to Southie, from a "white shoe" law firm to a ghoulish home "operating room," from security company offices to exploding trains, and from the Governor's office to the dark corners where associates of fugitive mob boss Whitey Bulger converge. Scott Finn, an orphan from Southie who worked his way out of juvenile detention and into a job at a prestigious Boston law firm, is devastated when his colleague and former lover, Natalie Caldwell, turns up dead on the Southie waterfront.
While police are investigating Natalie's death, Finn accepts the job of representing Huron Security in a major lawsuit, a case that Natalie was preparing when she died. Huron was in charge of security when a terrorist planted and detonated bombs on twelve rail cars, killing dozens of commuters, and a young widow has sued. When the governor of Massachusetts and his chief aide take an unnatural interest in Natalie's death and Finn himself is physically "warned," he knows he must investigate all aspects of Natalie's life if he is going to solve the case. Soon, he himself is under suspicion for her murder. An edge-of-your-seat conclusion worthy of the big screen ties up the loose ends and sets the scene for a possible series featuring Finn.
Although Hosp employs some melodramatic details at the beginning of the novel (the hand of a dead body reaching out "for help," and a man facing imminent death grabbing for the family photo in his pocket), he soon settles down and lets his plots and subplots develop more naturally. His depiction of Southie, the characters who populate it, the "presence" of real-life fugitive Whitey Bulger, and references to the trial of John Connolly, an FBI officer who handled Whitey and then went to jail for becoming "too close," set the scene and add realism and local color to the novel. Finn's own connections to Southie provide a bridge between the uptown characters, governmental offices, and the movers and shakers of Southie.
Occasionally, Hosp's clumsiness with key details--and the attempt to drop red herrings--are obvious and telegraph the reader that s/he is being manipulated. The inclusion of too-helpful friends and colleagues, along with Finn's own loose lips about crucial information, are the marks of an inexperienced author trying to control outcomes. Hosp does not have the literary flair or style of Lehane, but this Boston mystery, overall, is exciting, well-paced and clever, ideal for the beach, and great fun to read. Mary Whipple