A forensic psychiatrist whose expert testimony on behalf of dozens of prosecutors has made him nationally known as “Dr. Lock ’Em Up” finds himself back in coastal Washington State working for the defense of his former lover, accused of shooting her husband to death.
The case against world-famous painter Laura Arcand couldn’t be stronger. After a dinner attended by four other couples, she publicly accused her husband, Kitsap Industries CEO Mark Talbot, of adultery with Marcia Wiegand, his second-in-command at Kitsap; hours later, she was found on their private beach, with her wrists cut, next to his partially submerged body; a Ladysmith revolver he’d bought for her was missing; and on waking up at Seattle Harborview Hospital, she blurted out, “I killed them! Oh God, both of them.” Faced with the task of mounting Laura’s defense, Ed Hauser, her mother Ellen’s longtime lover, is daunted by her damning admission. But Dr. Will Hatton, Laura’s old friend and long-ago lover, intrigued by the reference to another murder, burrows deep into Laura’s past and soon discovers—not many surprises kept for the end in Huebner’s seventh (Methods of Execution, 1994, etc.)—that before she ran away from home as a teenager back in 1972, she told a wild story about being beaten and assaulted, but that nobody’s ever been able to find the assailant. Joining forces, and eventually fluids, with Ed’s associate Mary Slattery, Will presses the question of whether Laura might have killed her mysterious attacker after all and projected her traumatic memories onto her husband’s last night.
Get past the clunky expository dialogue, where the characters take turns swapping their life stories, and you’ll enjoy the highly satisfying, though not exactly revelatory, experience of seeing a row of clay pigeons—Laura’s smugly incompetent psychiatrist, a tub-thumping Christian prosecutor, a bevy of cover-up conspirators—neatly shot down.