When prominent Arkansas politician Hart Anderson is shot down by one of his psychiatrist-wife Carolyn's mental patients, public defender Gideon Page's job seems straightforward, if unappetizing: get self-confessed killer Perry Sarver the best deal he can from the prosecutor's office. No such luck: Perry insists on pleading insanity and going to trial; the D.A. indicts sleazy psychologist Jerry Kerner for hiring Perry to kill Anderson; Carolyn comes on to Page so strongly that he ends up sleeping with her after sexy/chaste social- worker Rainey McCorkle turns him down; a witness from a gay bar reports seeing Perry and Anderson coming out of a men's room together. The legal problems herewhy did Perry pull the trigger? at whose request? was he crazy? should Page play for a deal by threatening the D.A. with a witness who'll smear the late lamented Anderson, knowing that if the case goes to trial anyway he'll be supplying a motive for his client?are competently if unsurprisingly handled; better still is first-novelist Stockley's amusing, depressive narration of widower Page's home life (a daughter whose sex life worries him as much as his own) and his glum, endlessly compromising professional rounds.