Not even pot-tolerant San Francisco can ignore the complications that follow the murder of a dealer who seems to have been keeping half the town high.
Dylan Vogler earned $90,000 a year managing Haight-Ashbury’s Bay Beans West, twice as much as he would have made at Starbucks, but not enough to keep him from growing and selling high-grade cannabis to a select list of about 70 clients. When he’s shot to death outside the coffeehouse clutching a backpack full of weed, everyone who ever knew him goes into a defensive crouch. Inspectors Darrel Bracco and Debra Schiff wonder why BBW owner Maya Townshend would deny knowing anything about his dealing and insist that the only reason for his sky-high salary was to keep a good employee happy. When they learn that Vogler treated his boss like a hired hand; link both of them to a dicey shared past; and place her at the crime scene right around the time of the murder, they promote Townshend to a person of interest. Striking an unholy alliance with a U.S. Attorney eager for publicity, Bracco and Schiff threaten to seize both Townshend’s coffee shop and her wealthy husband’s real-estate holdings as drug proceeds. When another friend from her shady school days is found murdered, they stick her in the pokey. By this time, Townshend has retained Dismas Hardy as her counsel, and her problems have become his. In fact, given a client whose every utterance is either ambiguous or an out-and-out fib, Hardy doesn’t see how he can possibly get her off. There’ll be a walloping big courtroom surprise, but as has become customary in Hardy’s recent cases (Betrayal, 2008, etc.), this one doesn’t come to a full boil until afterwards, in an ill-advised shootout that punishes the guilty and then some.
Less issue-driven than usual, more of a whodunit—and a sharp one at that.