Law and Disorder

A local lawyer mines her experience to pen a taut debut thriller.


Mission Hill by Pamela Wechsler

Published by Minotaur Books, 304 pages, $25

Former prosecutor Pamela Wechsler’s debut novel follows Abby Endicott, who’s both a privileged Harvard Law graduate with a penchant for Armani and the tough chief of the district attorney’s homicide unit. But she’s shaken when her colleague Tim Mooney is found dead near Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain. Adding awkwardness to her sorrow is the fact that she’d been romantically involved with Tim before—and during—his marriage.

Keeping her cards close to her chest, the stoic Abby takes over Tim’s prosecution of Orlando Jones, a gangster facing a murder charge who was also responsible for the death of her childhood friend years before. The son of a wealthy Weston resident who’s donated big bucks to political big-timers, Orlando is now a suspect in Tim’s murder too, and our lawyer’s personal history with the man she’s prosecuting puts her in danger. Meanwhile, there’s an in-house imbroglio at the district attorney’s office involving bribes paid to squash an investigation into a Big Dig disaster that killed a family. Tim had been pushing to indict the cement company involved, but now, of course, he’s conveniently out of the picture.

The author portrays class complexities well: Abby’s finely drawn parents frequent a fancy Brahmin club and worry about her dangerous work—and about her boyfriend Ty, a musician with a drug-dealing history whom they formally call “Tyson.” And Wechsler, who has written for Law & Order, fills the book with energetic lawyer chat, lending Abby a breezy, cynical wit that complements her narrative style and wry character portrayals.

From Page 182: Some Einsteins think they’re clever by speaking in code. They seem surprised when we play their calls for jurors, who know exactly what they mean when they say, “Hide the puppies in the basement ceiling.” Especially when police get a search warrant and go into the basement, remove the ceiling tiles, and find not a litter of newborn labradoodles but a stash of fully loaded AK-47s.


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