In a break from his highly regarded John Cuddy series (The Only Good Lawyer, 1998, etc.), Healy makes his legal-eagle heroine more victim than detective. Nobody works harder than attorney Sheilah Quinn, and for what? Her father, confined to a nursing home, can barely recognize her half the time; she has to keep her steamy romance a dark secret; the Hon. Roger Hesterfield, presiding over her current trial, is ruling favorably on her procedural motions only so that he can hit on her after adjournment; opposing counsel is hungry for a conviction to launch his candidacy for state Attorney General; and her client, Arthur Ketterson IV, accused of strangling Jessica Giordano with her brassiere, fantasizes day and night about disposing of Sheilah in the same way. When a hung jury sets Ketterson free on bail to return to his estate, his faithful retainer, and his wine cellar (all of which seem to have tumbled out of a time warp), his good fortune is Sheilah’s bad, since Rudolph Giordano, the bereaved father who’s won the contract to demolish the Judge Hesterfield’s old courthouse, is driven to a frenzy, and the client’s new freedom doesn’t bode well for his counsel, especially after he starts to sharpen his claws on her nearest and dearest. All this may sound like Friday the 13th with lawyers instead of campers, but Healy can’t keep the line taut enough for successful pulp. His idea of menace is to show Ketterson savoring his Napoleon brandy, and the constant cutting back and forth from scene to scene comes across as a nervous twitch that makes you feel sorrier for the author than for his threatened characters. The macabre, unconvincing finale is one last embarrassment for all concerned, including the persistent reader. A waste of Healy’s talent likely to appeal only to hardcore lawyer-haters.