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The Smell of Money


A senior partner at a Philadelphia law firm, whose colleagues may be trying to push him out, collides with a professional assassin in this thriller.

When two of Jack Morgenthau’s clients, Stanley Barnard and his mother, clash over the family hardware company, Jack bows out. It’s a conflict of interest, after all, though he still infuriates both Barnards. Partners in the Firm Underwriting Committee, in a power grab, use Jack’s newly irate clients as grounds to force him out of the firm. Trouble, meanwhile, is also brewing just across the street from the Barnards’ factory. Old Rick Kozak, founder of We Love Trash, fields an offer to buy his transfer station. The buyer’s representative, Larry Evans, is actually a hit man who’s ridden into town to take out the company owner. But Larry’s client apparently wants more than just Old Rick murdered, so the killer will have to stay in Philadelphia for a spell. Jack, debating whether or not to fight the FUC, has no idea what he would do if he opted to retire. Larry’s considering retirement, too, but his hit list unfortunately has a new name: Jack’s daughter Monica, an Environmental Protection Agency lawyer. The two men’s lives inevitably intersect, with a surprising outcome. Kole (Suggestion of Death, 2011, etc.) seasons her novel with a bit of farce; sure, characters pronounce FUC as “eff-you-see,” but it’s hard not to glimpse the sporadically uttered curse. Jack is a refreshingly direct protagonist. When head of operations David Smith, for example, tries to pack up Jack’s office, Jack bluntly tells him, “I’m one of your bosses. Get out of my office.” At the same time, the calculating Larry is chilling. He may be losing his taste for his profession, but he kills more than one person in the story, and he’s clearly exceptional at it. Regardless, the author retains her tongue-in-cheek narrative all the way until the final act, a coda that’s both unnerving and gleefully comical—with the potential for a follow-up book featuring at least one of the characters.

A witty tale with two retirees—a lawyer and a hit man—cleverly paralleled.

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JANET KOLE practiced law for 30 years with both “Big Law” law firms and, for five years, her own environmental law boutique. She has written many books and articles on legal issues and wrote a regular column for Harper’s Bazaar on women and the law. She uses her extensive knowledge of law in her mystery novels. She has written for many publications including Ms. Magazine, New York Times, Penthouse, and Harper’s Bazaar. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College before going on to receive her masters from New York University and law degree from Temple University’s James Beasley School of Law. Kole lives part time in Philadelphia, Maryland, and Florida.