I'll be damned. It is right there in small print right between the publisher's name and the copyright date. The publisher and the estate of Lawrence Sanders have chosen Vincent Lardo to create this novel based on Lawrence Sanders's beloved character Archy McNally and his fictional world.
Well, that explains how it came out a year after his death.
McNally's Dilemma is the (cough, cough) eighth in a (ahem) "series" of books by Lawrence Sanders. The stories revolve around Archy McNally, who is in charge of Discreet Inquiries at his father's law firm. Archy quietly handles the dirt and private investigations for the rich and famous of Palm Beach, Florida.
One day, John Fairhurst III comes to Archy with a problem. It seems the late John Fairhurst Senior lived and died keeping a HUGE secret. Well, now somebody knows that secret and wants to blackmail the family with the knowledge. Archy agrees to do some digging and find out who the bad guy is.
That late evening, Archy gets a call from Melva Manning, another family acquaintance. It seems that Melva has shot her younger playboy husband, Geoff Williams. Could Archy come right over? You bet.
Archy arrives right in the middle of the crime scene. It does appear that Melva shot her husband after she found him with another woman. Apparently, the "mystery woman" left immediately after the murder occurred.
Archy calls the police and promises to do some investigating of his own for Melva. He feels obligated to Melva and her beautiful 22 year-old daughter, Veronica.
Like the author of the books itself, things are not what they seem for Archy. He trusts the Mannings implicitly as family friends, but the stories aren't adding up. What exactly is going on here?
Did Melva shoot Geoff in a lover's rage?
Who is the mystery woman?
How is the Fairhurst blackmail related to the murder?
Is Veronica putting the moves on Archy?
Will the truth ever be found?
All of these questions are answered in McNally's Dilemma.
Now comes the hard part. Lawrence Sanders is/was my favorite author. I was so upset when he died in 1998. Imagine my surprise when a new McNally book popped up in 1999. At first I thought it was just an unfinished manuscript belonging to Mr. Sanders. The last work by a great author. Lo and behold, in small print it states that another guy wrote the whole book. Bummer.
The biggest glaring indication of this was the real killer. I knew who it was halfway through the book. This NEVER happens with me. I am usually very gullible. So, the fact that I could spot it coming a mile away should tell you something. I even knew the motive! Sheesh.
Overall, Mr. Lardo, the REAL author, did a so-so job with the McNally character. In Dilemma Archy's clothes were only slightly outrageous. The sandwiches he consumed, deliciously described in past stories weren't as interesting in this book. Face it, Mr. Lardo, you can write about Archy McNally, but you'll never be Lawrence Sanders.
Don't let my disappointment with McNally's Dilemma turn you off from the series itself. Archy McNally is quite a lovable and entertaining character. The first seven books in the series are well worth a read.