Death of a One-Sided Man is the fourth installment in the Frank May mystery series penned by Stanford lawyer Lawrence Friedman.
May is a California lawyer specializing in wills and estates. He is approached by Derek Mobius, who wishes advice and representation regarding his recently deceased grandfather Simon's estate.To describe it as complicated is a gross understatement. Simon died after inheriting a substantial sum from his brother Rupert whose murder remains unsolved.Rupert's adult children challenge their exclusion from his will and question state laws regarding the legalities of inheritance when foul play is clearly evident.
In this case, family is suspect. Enter Gideon Grambling, the pretentious high powered lawyer to the rich and famous. Add a flaky at best, unstable at worst Executrix, a questionable trust devoted to research into reincarnation, and an ex-girlfriend claiming to be carrying the child of Piers Mobius, Simon's son who is believed to have been killed in an Australian boating accident some 1 ½ years prior.
Friedman constructs nice descriptions, especially of people. He provides a helpful family tree notation, however, it could have been clearer. Friedman is a storyteller, using dialogue and May's thoughts to convey continuity. This reader theorizes that Freeman's conversational style is an intentional method of capturing ordinary discourse which in real life often contains poorly structured sentences, questionable grammar, and flights of ideas. Whether deliberate or not, the latter being so much worse, it is a poor substitute for good writing. The text sometimes rambles, and verb forms don't always agree with the subjects of sentences.
Although Friedman's grammatical style has improved since his last book, with his previous preponderance of punctuation tempered to a more pleasing and palatable level, Death of a One-Sided Man could use editing; some simple, some otherwise.
Death of a One-Sided Man is busy, tangential, and at times confusing. The plot does become somewhat interesting while you wait for everything to fall into place, but I wouldn't hurry to the bookstore.
Other Lawrence Friedman Reviews
The Book Club Murder: The writing itself, however, leaves much to be desired.