It's old-home week for Gideon Page when Latrice Bledsoe asks him to come back to Bear Creek, Arkansas, to defend her meatpacker husband Doss on a charge of taking money from Paul Taylor to kill Willie Ting, the boss at Southern Pride Meats. Page is happy to take the case because if he can get Doss to testify against Paul Taylor, he'll be nailing the man who cheated his mother after his father killed himself. Apart from a couple of ambiguous conversations, though, there's no evidence against Taylor, and plenty (bloody knife, heavily alibi-ed coworkers) against Doss. Anybody but Page (Illegal Motion, 1995, etc.) would see other trouble signs, too: Doss refuses to take a lie-detector test; the supposedly despised Taylor has a surprising amount of popular support in Bear Creek; and Taylor's lawyer seems utterly unconcerned about the trial. (He probably knows the novel will have run most of its course by the time he'll need to show up in court.) But Page, awash in youthful memories and content to neglect his long-suffering girlfriend Amy Gilchrist for the dubious embraces of high-school sweetheart Angela Marr--the man seems to take up with each woman only to abandon her for the next--just can't keep his eye on the ball; it'll be a miracle, and no thanks to his dazzled lawyer, if Doss walks. A thimble-sized mystery interleaved with so many reminiscences of the hero's adolescence you'll feel as if you're paging through somebody else's high-school yearbook. Despite some incisive asides on racism, sensitive Page's fifth case is his weakest.