Allen J. Hubin

J. P. HAILEY – The Baxter Trust. Donald I. Fine, hardcover, 1988; Lynx, paperback, 1989.


   J. P. Hailey, “a pseudonym for a bestselling author of crime novels featuring a well-known detective,” introduces Steve Winslow in The Baxter Trust. Winslow is an intriguing chap, and his excellent debut has given me a thirst for more.

   He’s a failed actor who went to law school, passed the bar, joined a conservative law firm, and was immediately fired for his unconservative tactics. Now he advertises his freelance legal services (takers in one year = 0) while driving a cab for a living.

   Until Sheila Benton calls. She’s been charged with murder and picked Winslow (trial experience = 0) out of the yellow pages. Trouble is the D.A. has an ironclad case. And Sheila lies to everyone (including Steve).

   And Sheila has no way to pay Steve: the twenty million dollar trust she’s scheduled to inherit in eleven years won’t allow payments to defend her, and if her various peccadilloes were to become known (as they are almost certain to), she’ll be disinherited anyway.

   Lovely case for Winslow to get his law practice started on. A fresh and polished narrative.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 1989.

Editorial Comments:   My review of The Anonymous Client, the second in the series, can be found here. (I agree wholeheartedly with Al’s assessment.) Included with that review is a complete list of the books in the series, along with the ID of the author’s real name, Parnell Hall, apparently unknown at the time of Al’s comments.