A striking plot and a robust first-person style mark this debut novel set in Nacogoches, Texas, hometown of narrator Dr. Fowler McFarland, an ex-FBI man and writer on prison reform who's now teaching at a local college--and who's also deeply involved in a rehabilitation program for capital offenders funded by billionaire K. Brad Turrow. The murder and apparent rape of high-school teacher Maureen Wilson seem random to Fowler's good friend police chief Case Bayhill, but Fowler, with good reason, sees it as the work of a professional killer. He and reporter-journalism student Beth Bush, who's using the investigation for her master's thesis, explore the victim's past in which the single distinctive thing was her invention of a streamlined shorthand system. When they seek out her star pupil, now a court reporter in Dallas, they find that she, too, has been murdered. Her parents are convinced there's a connection to a murder trial their daughter covered some time back--one in which Paco Costillo, son of a ruthless Mexican druglord, was convicted of killing several members of K Brad Turrow's family. Paco's lawyer is now mounting an appeal from his client's life sentence. There's more, much more, as the body count mounts and the underlying murderous scheme speeds to its inevitable climax. His story's packed with sex, violence, foul language with a Texas twang, and super-macho attitudes toward women, but Fowler comes through as a pretty decent guy--and his creator emerges as a solid new talent.