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Presumption of Death Hardcover – July 29, 2003

44 customer reviews
Book 9 of 13 in the Nina Reilly Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When lawyer Nina Reilly muses while swimming at the start of this book about how many years she has left to enjoy life's pleasures, she startles us by the revelation that she is in her mid-thirties. Is that all? The O'Shaughnessy sisters, Pamela and Mary, have packed so much adventure, romance, crime and law into their books starring Reilly that we'd swear she was at least 50. And their latest outing, number nine, is no exception. Staying with her lover, investigator Paul van Wagoner, in his Carmel Valley condo while she reexamines her life after the traumatic events of 2002's Unfit to Practice dislodged her from her South Lake Tahoe home and office, Reilly is torn between Paul's obvious sexual appeal and his irksome urging for some form of long-term commitment. Then the 21-year-old Native American son of Nina's former secretary, Sandy Whitefeather, winds up in the middle of a murder and arson investigation, and Nina and Paul barely have a moment free for cuddling or bickering. Plotting has never been an O'Shaughnessy strong suit (in an acknowledgment, the authors mention an editor "who, with this book especially, has shown her rare ability to catch the lags, the vagueness, and the illogic of our manuscript"-a few glitches still slipped through). But the series' real virtues are intact: well-rounded and likable characters set against a richly described backdrop of some of the loveliest country in the world.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Counselor Nina Reilly keeps on ... getting better. Generous heart, steel-trap brain, elegant looks: great fun to read about."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"The protagonists are well-rounded and engaging, the legal issues are clarified for the layman, and the pace is relentless. Presumption of Death virtually demands to be read in one sitting."—BookPage

"Well-rounded and likable characters set against a richly described backdrop of some of the loveliest country in the world."—Publishers Weekly

From the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Series: O'Shaughnessy, Perri
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (July 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385336454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385336451
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #951,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Nina Reilly is back! But in PRESUMPTION OF DEATH, she is no longer practicing law in Tahoe; rather she has taken up residence in Carmel Valley with her longtime lover, Paul van Wagoner, P.I. "Living together was a revelation. They weren't kids, and melding their lifestyles didn't come easy." Her son, Bob, is in Europe; her former secretary cum best friend, Sandy Whitefeather, is in Washington on business "... with the federal government at the Bureau of Indian Affairs ..." and Nina is auditioning for the part of Paul's permanent partner.
Things are not quite perfect in the couple's relationship, but they put their personal concerns aside, when Sandy calls them for help. They are needed to identify the charred remains of an alleged arsonist who died in a fire not far from Paul's home. The victim could be Willis a.k.a. Wish, Sandy's son. She tells them that the police have called and informed her that "He went up the Robles Ridge above Carmel Valley Village ... with another boy. His roommates say he didn't come home that night or last night either." But Sandy does not believe he is dead nor does she believe he started the fire that burned fifteen acres.
The couple hurries off to the morgue, and the story heats up from there. The remains are not Willis's. Wish is not dead, but if the body isn't his, then who burned to death in the blaze? The police are convinced that Whitefeather started the fire on the ridge and that he could be responsible for the other arsons that have suddenly erupted in the valley. They arrest him. And Nina finds herself with a client whose innocence she and Paul are determined to prove.
Their work takes them up and down the California coast, but keeps bringing them back to the small neighborhood in the Village called Siesta Court.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on April 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am so surprised to read the negative reviews of this book, because to my mind, the O'Shaugnessy sisters, having fallen into quite a slump, thoroughly redeemed themselveds with "Presumption of Death."
I found Nina Reilly's new venue (or old, depending on how much one has followed this character through the series) and new circumstances to be fascinating--I felt that a whole new burst of life had been injected into the series. Not only did I not find it boring, I zipped through the book in record time.
Other reviewers have described the plot in detail...ominous forest fires, obviously the result of arson, are decimating the forests around the Carmel area--and young Wish Whitefeather, whom we have followed through all the books and brought to young adulthood, is arrested for setting the fires, with one count of murder to boot. It is up to Nina, who wanted nothing more than to take a hiatus from her career and explore her personal relationship with her lover and PI partner Paul, to take the case and save Wish from almost certain conviction.
As Paul and Nina struggle to find a center to their relationship and to solve the increasingly thorny mystery of who really set the fires and why, a whole subcast of characters is explored. The end was sufficient enough for this reviewer to be on tenterhooks for the next book. I know this is not a popular point of view among other reviewers, and again, I don't know why. My reaction to this book was wholly positive, and I would definitely urge those who follow the series to read it. For those who have not been Nina Reilly fans in the past, my view is that this will turn the tide.
Enough said!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By SDRTX on September 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Nina Reilly is back in her ninth outing. For the last three years she has practiced law in Lake Tahoe. Now she is back in her hometown living with her boyfriend, Paul van Wagoner. Suspicious fires have been breaking out. A third fire has a fatality and the prime suspect is Wish Whitefeather, Wish happens to be Nina's secretary, Sandy's son. Nina and Paul work together to clear Wish of the charges.
I'm a big fan of Perri O'Shaungnessy's other Nina Reilly novels. I could barely get through this one. If I hadn't had so much time invested in it, I probably wouldn't have bothered to finish it. One problem with the book is the characters are not likable. Even Nina is whiny and rather annoying. It's a bad sign when a beloved main character becomes irritating. The secondary cast around whom the plot revolves is a pathetic bunch of people. I could not care one whit about any of them. The plot was boring which is a big offense in the thriller genre. Part of the book dealt with Nina's conflicted relationship with Paul. I don't she her able to share her life with anyone. She really doesn't know how to compromise, so I think she should just head back to Tahoe and hopefully come back in a better story.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nick G on August 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Attorney Nina Reilly returns to where she began her career, Carmel Valley, but a warm welcome she does not receive, instead she receives news that Wish, the son of her former assistant Sandy, has been arrested.
A series of suspicious fires have raged through the valley, and the latest fire has left a young man dead and Wish as the primary suspect.
Nina knows Wish is not an arsonist, or a killer, but a few questions bother her... why was Wish in the forest, why did his friend end up dead, and why is there a witness saying they saw Wish?
As the answers to these questions begin to surface, Nina finds a dark conspiracy running through the peaceful valley, and a killer who will stop at nothing to silence her.
`Presumption Of Death' is not the best entry in the Nina Reilly series, it plods along, rather slowly, telling a tale of a town covered in secrets, but where the novel should have picked up speed, it slowed down with the overlapping storylines of Nina's relationship, and Native American heritage.
I was surprised at how disappointing this novel was because Perri O'Shaughnessy (the pen name for two sisters) has previously written great novels in this thrilling series. While not an awful novel, `Presumption Of Death' does not contain the page-turning elements, or the interesting plot-line of the earlier novels.
Nick Gonnella
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