Baby’s Lament

Bruce Von Stiers

Larry Rochelle writes a series featuring Tennis Pro Palmer Morel. This series has Palmer get into all kinds of dangerous situations. The books are also full of slightly kinky sex. One of the Palmer Morel titles that I just finished reading is Death and Devotion. It was published by Zumaya Publications.

A dead baby is found near the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. Little does anyone know at the time how this dead child will impact the lives of a whole bunch of people. These people include Palmer, his lover Corky and several others whose lives intersect.

Palmer is muddling through life, giving tennis lessons at his club and caring for Corky, He is still in love with her, even though she is barely alive due to a car wreck. Her nurse Cassie has the hots for Palmer. But she’s not the only one. The receptionist at the club, Sarah, is also after him. But Palmer is trying to steer clear of both of them.

We find out that the baby is the grandson of two wealthy Kansas Citians. The two brothers, Evan and Ellis O’Connell, are ruthless businessmen. They have a plan for a light rail system for Kansas City. Only someone is beating them to it. They want to discredit this other person and claim the glory for themselves.

Evan and Ellis also have another problem. Daniel is the son of Megan Murphy, who is the daughter of Ellis. Only Daniel died at the hands of his father. And Ellis dumped the body of the baby at the Liberty Memorial. Why he did that is not exactly clear. But now he and Evan have to deal with Megan, her murderous husband and this threat to their rail plan.

Thrown into the mix is a homeless man. He happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees the baby being left. Eventually, the homeless man runs into Palmer and gives him information about the baby.

A student of Palmer’s is a cop and is involved in the baby case. As things progress in the case, Palmer gets more involved in it. The paths of Palmer and the O’Connell brothers meet several times before a chilling final confrontation at a blues concert.

Death and Devotion is more of a crime novel than a mystery. We see all of the bad guys at the time of their indiscretions. The O’Connell’s are monstrous in the way that death is only a business matter to them. Only near the end of the story do the wheels come off and one of the brothers loses it completely.

There is also the sex angle of the story. Palmer is a man that seems to emote sex appeal and every woman wants him. But his heart, and other body parts, belongs to Corky. At least for a while. Although there are several sex scenes in the book, most of the encounters are general in nature and not too explicit. That takes this novel several notches above the sleaze level it could have been at.

Death and Devotion was fun to read, even though I kind of figured out how it was going to end early on. I especially enjoyed Rochelle’s detailed description of the Kansas City locales. Because I live in Topeka, about 60 miles west of Kansas City and have visited there often, I am familiar with just about all of the locations mentioned in the book.

Check out this or other Palmer Morel titles on the Zumaya Publications web site. It can be found at


© 2002 Bruce E. Von Stiers