Woodstock lawyer Mickey Dupree’s streak of capital murder acquittals without a single loss has been stopped at eight by the five-iron driven through his chest. Joe Brady, of the Kingston PD, is certain that he doesn’t have to look any further than Virgil Cain, the farmer who recently told Mickey—who secured an acquittal for record producer Alan Comstock, accused of killing Virgil’s wife Kirstie—that somebody ought to kill him. But Claire Marchand, an investigator for the Ulster County DA’s Office, isn’t so sure. She’s impressed by Virgil’s steadfast denials of guilt and even more impressed by his gravitas and his refusal to lose his cool under Brady’s taunting. Even after Virgil escapes from police custody during his transfer to another prison, Claire doubts that he’s the killer. While Brady is certain that Virgil’s hightailed it back to his native Canada, she realizes that he’s stayed much closer to home, determined to clear his name by finding the real killer. Both the time and the place are wrong for Virgil’s plan, though, since someone takes advantage of his being on the loose to kill Comstock, whom he has an even stronger motive for murdering, and another of Mickey’s clients, horse-abuser Miller Boddington, whom Virgil must have some reason for killing.
The whodunit is both unguessable and not very interesting, but Smith (Busted Flush, 2005, etc.) makes the developing relationship between mutually wary Virgil and Claire well worth the price of admission.