A volatile small-town sheriff will stop at nothing to find the person responsible for putting his fiancé in a coma.
On a rainy October night in Washington, D.C., Ruth Harris wraps her car around a telephone pole and ends up in the hospital in intensive care, comatose and hooked to an IV. Keeping vigil at her bedside is fiancé Ike Schwartz, sheriff of nearby Picketsville, Va., and his CIA pal Charlie Garland. Ike's instincts tell him it wasn't an accident. But as a rural lawman, he gets no respect from city cops and has to do all the legwork himself. Charlie's influence gets Ike a look at the accident report, and he finagles his way into the yard where the car's being held to examine it. He quickly decides that his initial presumption of foul play was spot-on, and it's a short leap to the conclusion that Ike and not Ruth, who works for the Department of Education, was the real target. Unfortunately, it's election time in Picketsville, and Ike faces a formidable opponent in Jack Burns. So it falls to his politician father Abe to get him elected while he works the case. Like Ruth's recovery, Ike's progress is slow. Her temporary replacement, Dr. Scott Fiske, rubs Ruth's hard-working assistant Agnes the wrong way. When Charlie's investigations reveal that Scott Fiske doesn't exist, Ike's finally caught a break he can follow up on.
Suspense builds slowly in Ike's fifth procedural (Choker, 2008, etc.). Its low-key charm particularly rewards readers already familiar with the characters.