A grieving detective and a self-doubting lawyer face off in a courtroom.
The last thing Max Rupert wants is to catch a homicide case on the anniversary of his wife Jenni’s hit-and-run death. But he’s determined to do right by the unidentified dead woman found in an alley with stab wounds in her neck and a child’s blanket wrapped around her. Max uses his wits and a pair of registered diamond earrings to trace the victim’s identity. She was the wealthy and influential Jennavieve Pruitt, the force behind a foundation to save wetlands. When the police search her home, they find a shadow box missing a two-edged dagger and an inscription that reads, “For carving out more protected land.” Although it’s likely one of the developers whom Jennavieve prevented from building on his own land, who could have killed her, Max is under pressure to build a case against Ben, Jennavieve’s husband, who wasn’t even in town the night of the murder. That doesn’t discourage an ambitious assistant Hennepin County attorney in league with Jennavieve’s sister, who has her own motive for murder and her own reasons for getting Ben charged with the crime instead. But they haven’t reckoned with Ben’s friend and former law partner, Professor Boady Sanden, who’s still recovering from a case that left him so shaken he swore he’d never practice law again. Ben coaxes Boady back into practice to defend him, even though Boady and Max are friends, too. But more than friendship is on the line as Ben’s case heads to trial, Max thinks he has a break in his wife’s cold case, and the momentum finally starts building in this sideways sequel to The Life We Bury (2014).
A previously secondary character, Eskens' broken-hearted hero finally has the spotlight the third time out. It’s too bad he has to fight his way through so much back story to get there.