Dismas Hardy’s daughter, Rebecca, the most junior associate at his law firm, gets her own first case, and it’s a doozy.
The San Francisco legal system has made little progress lately on homicide cases involving African-American victims, and rabble-rousing city supervisor Liam Goodman, along with his rabble, is turning up the heat. So when Anlya Paulson, 17, takes a header from the Bush Street overpass to land on the hood of a Subaru passing through Stockton Street below, district attorney Wes Farrell sends mixed-race Inspector Abe Glitsky over from his own office to help Inspectors Eric Waverly and Ken Yamashiro. Soon enough, a gift falls in their laps: Greg Treadway, a schoolteacher who’s serving as Court Appointed Special Advocate for Anlya’s twin brother, Max. Greg had dinner with Anlya hours before she died, and his first statement to the cops fudges on several key details. That’s good enough for the SFPD, who hustle him off to jail. Rebecca, who met Greg only a few minutes before he made that first statement, agrees to represent him, and the game is afoot. The circumstantial evidence against her client piles up, and The Beck, as Hardy calls her, makes several greenhorn mistakes in court. But she also pokes unexpected holes in several witnesses’ testimonies. Meanwhile, events conspire to put three alternative suspects into play: Royce Utlee, the pimp who’s partnered with Anlya’s friend Honor Wilson to manage a stable of prostitutes; Leon Copes, the former live-in boyfriend of Anlya’s and Max’s mother, Sharla, who molested the girl before the twins were removed to foster care; and Ricardo Salazar, a killer who escaped trial in California only to kill again in Minnesota.
“You’re never going to believe what just happened,” as The Beck’s roommate tells her at one point, could be a motto, for better or worse, for the whole wild tale. The final twist, however, is sadly predictable.