In McCourt’s debut mystery-thriller, a New Orleans prosecutor’s determination to win a sexual assault case gets her entangled in a conspiracy involving people with powerful local connections.
Assistant district attorney Abby Callahan is out jogging in Audubon Park, near the Loyola University campus, when she finds a bloody, battered woman named Darcy Smith lying near an oak tree. Abby convinces her to go to the hospital and subsequently prosecutes the rapist, Richard “Chip” Hebert Jr. Two months later, Abby’s case is dealt a severe blow when the trial judge is arrested out of the blue. Before she can recuperate from the setback, Abby must fly to Long Island, New York, where her cancer-ridden father recently committed suicide. There, she receives two troubling phone calls from New Orleans—one from Darcy’s friend, Nola, who can’t find Abby’s client anywhere and then later, from a cop who wants Abby to identify a body. Abby returns to the Big Easy, but as soon as she gets there, she discovers that her reporter friend Jill, who’d been staying at her apartment, has been injured; Jill claims that she was attacked by two off-duty cops looking for Darcy. It seems that some very dangerous people want Abby off the case—including Chip’s affluent father. McCourt’s absorbing tale evolves from a deceptively simple courtroom drama to a dizzyingly complex thriller. As McCourt’s tale goes on, Abby learns that both Darcy and Jill have been withholding crucial details from her; meanwhile, Abby juggles two ex-boyfriends, including one who’s served time for a hazily remembered drunken driving accident in her car. The protagonist primarily analyzes evidence that other people have amassed, but the author shows how her quick wits allow her to put the final pieces together. Abby’s uncertainty over whom to trust results in some tense scenes, and the book ends on a sensational cliffhanger.
An engaging mystery that readies a charismatic and savvy protagonist for her own series.