Even in Missouri convicted murderers aren’t supposed to hog the profits from publicity about their crimes, so when Angela Green signs a contract to write a book after serving ten years in prison since killing her husband, Samantha Cummings, the gallery owner Michael Green had dumped her for, has other ideas: She files suit claiming that her son Trent, whom Michael intended to adopt, should get half of Angela’s royalties. It’s clearly a case for St. Louis attorney Rachel Gold—and just as clearly, Rachel will soon graduate from defending Angela in the civil case to unearthing evidence that maybe she didn’t kill her lawyer husband after all: the Rohypnol in her bloodstream that would explain her blackout on the murder night better than post-traumatic stress, the mysterious success Samantha’s had getting top dollar for the work of a mediocre painter, the X-rated videotapes linking certain City Hall insiders to an audacious money-laundering scheme. It’s a lucky thing for Rachel that the case unreels so smoothly, because she’s got troubles on the side. The wonderfully overripe redevelopment commissioner is about to lower the boom on her pet women’s shelter; she’s defending a couple of ostrich ranchers on a charge more outrageous than their profession; and she’s struggling to embrace the stringent Orthodox lifestyle of her true love. Not to worry: Everything, everything, works out fine.
It’s a treat to see Rachel back from her extended leave of absence since Sheer Gall (1996), and working such a meaty, satisfying case as this one, even if the darkest complications wind up with a tidiness improbable even for genre fiction.