Big-boned Marion County, Indiana, Public Defender Nora Lumsey (A Criminal Appeal, 1998) wants to help Stormi Skye, a foul-mouthed, edgy-tempered prostitute and habitual druggie, get into rehab, but her more immediate concern is admitting to Harrison Police Department detective Luther Cox that she had a three-month affair with the area’s freshest corpse—law professor James Barris, found shot and genitally mutilated in a cornfield. The town is hardly mourning the dead man: The Women’s Law Caucus, for instance, is gleefully selling “I Killed Barris” T-shirts. But Cox is finding his investigation hamstrung when both basketball coach and Indiana icon Don Hedstrom and porn merchant Gene Lydon tell him to back off or they’ll reveal his part in “losing” evidence in a rape case that let a sports star walk. Could Barris’s death bring down Cox along with the police chief and the mayor? It’s a possibility, but before it can happen, Lydon implicates the coach in Barris’s scheme to cash in on the porn market, Stormi’s equally sleazy sister Sunni is murdered, and it looks as if more than one murderer is loose. Cox, armed with a warrant, and Stormi, armed with a gun, will converge on the basketball arena looking for the same man, though for different reasons, and poor, big-boned Lumsey will get caught between them before the game is truly up.
Schanker is tough on sports “ethics,” all right, but dissipates the tale’s hard-boiled, smack-mouth nastiness with Lumsey’s mushy center and an I Ching episode that seems to come from off the bench.