A down-and-out private investigator works a case that takes her back to her own past.
Ohio death row inmate Brad Stockton’s sister, Danielle, hasn’t given up on saving his life. The private investigator she reaches out to, Roxane Weary, can’t say the same about herself. Following her father's death, she’s been drowning her troubles in bottles of spirits with a chaser of bad relationships, including bedding Tom, her fathers' longtime work colleague, and trying to rekindle an affair with Catherine, who's been stringing Roxane along since high school. Reluctant to take on a case but more reluctant to go without money, Roxane agrees to look into Danielle’s claim that one of Brad’s alleged murder victims, Sarah Cook, is actually alive and well. Though Roxane is sure the story is a fantasy, she can’t deny the fact that Sarah’s body was never found. True, there’s the highly suggestive evidence of the bodies of both of Sarah’s parents at the scene, along with the knife found in the back of Brad’s car. But Roxane knows that someone could easily have planted that last item. Perhaps someone in Belmont wasn’t ready for black Brad to be dating blonde Sarah. After all, the town isn’t known for progressive values or inclusiveness, as Roxane finds out firsthand when the local police make it known how unwelcome her investigation is. And even though Roxane doesn’t believe Sarah is still alive, when she finds a connection between the case and investigations in her father’s past, she vows to keep going until she uncovers the truth, whatever the risk.
Lepionka’s debut confidently portrays complex characters with multiple, sometimes contradictory, motivations and offers an unusually naturalistic perspective on sexual identity.