Following ”No Safe Place,” last year’s offbeat venture into presidential-campaign fiction, Richard North Patterson returns to his home turf with a painstakingly researched legal thriller cum murder mystery.
But while Dark Lady shares all the familiar ingredients (family turbulence, career crises, and a crackerjack lawyer both ambitious and incorruptible) that rightly made ”Silent Witness” and ”The Final Judgment” best-sellers, this one is a minor effort and a major disappointment, a shambles of half-baked characterizations, slack pacing, and zero suspense.
Kinky sex, multiple murders, soap opera, city politics — a sturdy frame, as good and as potentially dramatic as anything Patterson has given us before. Yet once the premise and all of the players are in position, things turn clunky, then fall apart.
Bad enough that the prose is clichéd and the dialogue flavorless, but you quickly get a sinking feeling that the author is just going through the motions, narrating without any passion for his material, or even much interest. And heck, if he doesn’t believe what he’s saying, why should we?