A Georgia student’s murder is solved all too quickly and violently—in a way that tears apart her community, fuels the hatred between Det. Lena Adams and former Medical Examiner Sara Linton, and promises still further violence.
If it hadn’t been for the telltale cut on the back of her neck, Allison Spooner’s death would have looked like suicide, complete with motive and farewell note. Shortly after Lena realizes that Allison’s been murdered, a routine search of Allison’s place leads to a sudden, bloody confrontation with a masked intruder that leaves all three officers involved—Lena, Det. Brad Stephens and interim police chief Frank Wallace—wounded. Miraculously, the intruder doesn’t escape. Arrested none too gently, Tommy Braham confesses that he killed Allison because she spurned his advances. But his story, though it conveniently fits the facts of the crime, seems to require a killer who’s both more intelligent and less weepy than him. When Sara, just returned to Heartsdale for a visit, arrives at the jail in response to a mysterious phone call, she finds Tommy dead. Furious at the incompetence of Lena, whom she still holds responsible for her husband’s death (Beyond Reach, 2007), Sara phones the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who send Special Agent Will Trent to determine the question of Tommy’s innocence or guilt—and incidentally to referee the latest round of the long feud between the two women.
As usual in this white-hot series (Fractured, 2008, etc.), the ongoing psychological warfare and the physical violence that punctuates it are far more memorable than the unmasking of the real killer.