Eight months after her cop husband Byron is sent to the hospital by a shooter named Jesse Garcia, Zoe Barrow, responding to an officer-assist call, pulls her own trigger, only later realizing that she’s just killed Garcia herself. The case would be closed—if only Lt. Andrew Nichols at Internal Affairs didn’t act as if Zoe had been gunning for Garcia, if only the news of his assailant’s death could awaken Byron from his coma, if only life didn’t keep going on. Sidelined to desk duty, Zoe soon finds herself working two new cases. Officially, she’s assigned to the murder of hooker/informant Tami Louise Smuts, whose throat was cut the night she tipped Zoe to a secret meeting between client Steve Crooks and some unidentified fellow-conspirators when Harry Albright, the homicide dick working the case, asks for her help. Unofficially, she’s pulled into helping protect wealthy businessman Avery Peppard, divorced from Byron’s Aunt Susan, when he claims his much younger second wife, Mary Margaret, has inveigled her boyfriend into killing him—a boyfriend who sounds, Avery fearfully suggests, as if he’s an Austin cop himself. Sure enough, Avery’s soon accosted by a man with a knife, then shot in the chest before Mary Margaret turns up with her throat slit—an unmistakable link to the dead prostitute. Can Zoe figure out the connection between the two cases before she becomes a victim herself, or is forced once more to assume the role of killer?
A fast-moving, if never exactly convincing, debut for Grape and her bedeviled heroine.