Another visit to Shakespeare, Arkansas, where housecleaner Lily Bard (Shakespeare’s Christmas, 1998, etc.) takes comfort in her karate classes and in her lover, p.i. Jack Leeds, and tries never to think of the vicious attack that long ago left her scarred in body and soul. Her latest distraction is Deedra Dean, the promiscuous local girl who lives in the neighboring apartment house owned by fellow karate student Becca Whitley. But Deedra soon becomes a more weighty concern. Driving one day to her job, Lily, spotting a metallic red flash in the woods, finds Deedra’s car, its owner naked and dead in the front seat—clothes and jewelry strewn on the ground—killed, according to the autopsy, by a massive blow. Sheriff Marta Schuster takes charge of the case, even though it’s common knowledge that her brother Marlon was even more attached to Deedra than most of her swains. Meanwhile, Lily, ever alert, spots an intruder and a fire at the cottage of nasty old Joe C. Prader, another of Deedra’s clients. She manages to save him, to his heirs’ likely chagrin. When Deedra’s mother Lacey seeks Lily’s help in cleaning out her daughter’s apartment, it’s there, in a most unlikely missing object, that Lily discovers the motive for Deedra’s killing and barely escapes with her life.
Plot lines and suspense get lost in a glut of minor characters, aimless chitchat, and a bit too much soul-searching. A neat surprise ending will reward Lily’s ardent fans without winning new ones.