A successful San Francisco lawyer returns to Lake City, Ohio, to defend a childhood friend on murder charges--and to confront the townsfolk who are convinced that the lawyer himself is a killer. A generation ago, Anthony Lord and Sam Robb thought the defining moment of their high-school careers would be when one of them was named Athlete of the Year. But all that changed when class president Alison Taylor was raped and strangled minutes after saying good-night to Tony. Despite the efforts of the Lake City police and the hatred of everyone in town--only Sam and his girlfriend, Sue Cash, stood by him--Tony was never charged with the murder, and eventually escaped to Harvard Law, a movie-star wife, and a son who's the age Alison was when she died. Now a desperate call from Sue Robb brings Tony back to Lake City. Sam, currently the track coach at Lake City High, has been accused of murdering Marcie Calder, one of his star athletes. The evidence is as damning as you'd expect: Sam was carrying on a heated affair with Marcie, who was pregnant with his child and refused an abortion. Even more unnervingly, however, nobody seems to have left Lake City for the past 27 years except for Tony and the dead. So Tony is constantly running into figures from his tainted past--Alison's bereaved parents, the fence-straddling teacher who'd refused him a college recommendation--now recast in painful new roles that prevent Tony from trying the murder of Marcie Calder without investigating the murder of Alison Taylor. Despite the odds against him, Tony is every bit as tenacious in the courtroom as Patterson's earlier heroes (The Final Judgment, 1995, etc.); and readers who relish legal dogfights are in for hours of expertly turned battle, even though most of them will guess the final revelation long before the gavel comes down.