Ben Harvey just can't catch a break. Eight years ago, he was convicted of raping his Chicago schoolmate Laura Shay, largely on the strength of the scratches she left on his face when he saw her walking dazed and weeping down the street and tried to help her. Now that a DNA test unavailable during his trial has proved his innocence and sprung him from jail, shiftless, alcoholic Laura's been strangled, leaving Ben another legacy of trouble as detective Jeremy Ransom's prime suspect. Yet Ransom's honorary grandmother Emily Charters insists there's more to the case than a simple revenge killing. Why did Laura lie about her attacker's identity? Why did she try in vain to keep the rapist's child? Where did her downtrodden parents get the money to send her away to college, and why did she return home before finishing? And (the biggest question of all) if Ben Harvey didn't assault Laura, who did, and what's he been doing for the past eight years? Though the few suspects--Laura's amorous boss, her disdainful school friends, the rich kid she had a hopeless crush on--are so sketchy and briefly onstage that not even the rapist leaves much of an impression, the resolute focus on these few leading questions gives normally low-key Ransom (Ransom for a Holiday, 1997, etc.) his sharpest, most urgent case yet.