Blood Flag (Paul Madriani)
by Steve Martini
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
William Morrow Mass Market Paperback / e ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062328984
Date: 17 May 2016 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Author Steve Martini has written another novel in the series of criminal defense attorneys Paul Madriani and Harry Hinds. Harry and Paul are the Indiana Jones of lawyers, and their cases always involve lots of action and adventure. Blood Flag begins as their most recent client, 63-year-old Emma Brower, is sitting in their office on a Friday afternoon explaining that the police are accusing her of having killed her father six weeks earlier, while he was in a nursing home. He had smoked his whole life, and had the various lung ailments that come with it. Emma explains that she loved her father, and in no way could have killed him. Then Emma mentions that her father had received a mysterious package in the mail a few weeks before he went to the hospital and that he had been nervous ever since. The police arrive at the law office and arrest Emma.
As Paul and Harry put together their case to clear Emma of the murder charges, plus get her out of jail in the short term, Paul's office assistant Sophia goes to Emma's house to pick up her dog and watch him over the weekend. Monday morning, the sheriff shows up at the law office and says that Sophia had been found murdered. Paul, Harry, and their private investigator Herman Diggs start to research both cases. The dog is happily staying at the neighbor's house, and the legal team doesn't even know if Sophia ever arrived at the house the weekend before, nor whether or not the two crimes are connected.
Emma had stored the package in her safety deposit box. Paul and Harry retrieve it and the team starts to look for clues. The return address leads them to a lawyer in Oklahoma. The box contains a key and an ID for a Nazi soldier. The Oklahoma lawyer is careful with his lawyer-client privilege but does reveal that he represented more than one client concerning the box. Emma's father was a WWII veteran and as they research more, they discover that the Nazi soldier was the bearer of the famous Blutfahne or blood flag. Without being sure at this point, they assume that Emma's father and his Army buddies had retrieved the Blood Flag as a war trophy and were trying to sell it. Two of the other parties involved also had died recently of mysterious causes. The legal team meets the son of one of the other WWII veterans who had also mysteriously died, Tony Pack, and they work together to uncover the mystery of the box, the Blood Flag, and the mysterious deaths.
Paul and Harry are also trying to resolve Sophia's murder and whether or not the two cases are connected. The Blood Flag is not a mystery to just Paul, Harry and Tony Pack. Another group, somehow tied to the Israeli Embassy in California, is also trying to find the flag, and the groups cross paths in various places.
Tony Pack turns out to be a major character and quickly befriends Paul Madriani. They search together through the possessions of the two men and travel to many places. The chase is lots of fun and allows the team to use the "Indiana Jones" skills that they have developed over their previous cases. Blood Flag has the biggest surprise ending that I have read in a long time, but I won't spoil it.
This story ties into another one of my interests, WWII in Europe, which made the mystery extra special to me. I love Steve Martini's series of Madriani and Hinds. Ironically I read my first one on a plane ride home from the visit in beautiful Coronado, California. As I read the first chapter, I realized that the legal office is in Coronado, and I was immediately hooked. Madriani and Hinds and several others are recurring characters, but plenty of background information is present to make each novel stand separately.
I highly recommend Blood Flag and the whole Madriani and Hinds series by Steve Martini. I can't wait for the next one.