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By Jeremiah Healy

Pocket Books, August 1999 $5.99

Reviewed by Rick McMahan (6/98)

Jeremiah Healy, lawyer turned writer, has done very well with his John Francis Cuddy series.

In THE ONLY GOOD LAWYER, the Boston-based PI is hired to help prove a man innocent of murder.

On a lonely road, attorney Woodrow Wilson Grant's car is sabotaged, and when he stops to check the damage his killer emerges from the night to shoot him down and drop the murder weapon behind. The murder weapon is linked to a man whose wife is one of Grant's clients in a divorce proceeding. The man had threatened Grant in the past. In fact, he had threatened to kill him. The police feel that they have their man in custody, but the man's attorney believes his client is innocent and asks Cuddy to re-investigate the murder. The accused is not a man with a sterling character. In fact, Alan Spaeth is a racist and a lout with a violent temper. He is a small man who rubs you wrong. However, Cuddy takes the case in spite of his dislike for the man. John Cuddy takes the case because he believes the man is innocent of murder.

I have to admit that I am a sporadic reader of the Cuddy series, but one of the most appealing things about the character that Jerry Healy's created in John Cuddy is a unique PI. For the first few books in the series, there was no romantic interest for Cuddy who was still mourning his dead wife whom he lost to cancer. In times of confusion or uncertainty, Cuddy returned to his wife's grave to have conversations with her. Over time and throughout the series, Cuddy has developed a long-term love interest in Nancy, a female prosecutor. However, when Cuddy takes on the case to help defend Alan Spaeth, there is a rift that develops between Nancy and John Cuddy. In short, the uniqueness of the John Francis Cuddy series is that each book is the story about how each case affects and causes conflict in Cuddy's personal life.

THE ONLY GOOD LAWYER is the twelfth book in the John Francis Cuddy series, and Healy's character doesn't seem to be losing steam as the series continues.

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