Jessica Mitchell, a new reporter on Alex Collier's Channel 7 Twin Cities news team (Savage Justice, 1992), goes off on her own to find out the truth about the murder of accused rapist Edward Hill—and uncovers a vigilante court of last resort for the victims of sex offenders. Forging an unlikely alliance with Captain Bill Meecham, the half- retired, half-drunk head of Homicide, Jessica links Hill's death to several other unsolved homicides of rapists and child molesters in the Twin Cities area. The culprits are the members of the Craft Club, women who've been denied justice in the courts and are now taking the law into their own hands. In the hands of a subtler moralist, the pivotal Craftswoman would be Hennepin County prosecutor Sarah Andrews, who is inflamed by a justice system that winks at the likes of alleged molester Lowell Ingram and lets him off without a day of prison time, but who's still reluctant to countenance the Craft Club's extreme- prejudice reprisals. Handberg wavers in this direction when the Club kidnaps and humiliates Ingram, who starts to feed information to Jessica even as he's threatening Sarah with counter-revenge for her revenge. Mainly, though, Handberg chooses to focus instead on Lt. Freda Brinkman, an over-the-top rogue cop who's both Meecham's right- hand investigator and the Club's least conscience-stricken dispenser of summary justice. The battle of wits between Jessica and Brinkman stays on a cartoon level as Brinkman stalks Jessica, arranges an accident for Meecham, and plans to kidnap Jessica along with Sarah's weak-link roommate—rape victim Kim Hawkins (``an open, bleeding wound'')—while Jessica, with eligible rookie prosecutor Jack Tomlinson, closes in on the Channel 7 exclusive that will shut down the Craft Club for good. Connect-the-dots suspense, with a subtext about vigilante justice that's too crude and confused to be truly insulting.
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