A social worker’s troubled past threatens her livelihood.
Roger and Beverly Danco’s first love had always been Star Wars. Their second was drugs—weed, pills, LSD. Their third might have been each other, leaving no room at all for their two kids. It’s no surprise that as adults, both Leah and Luke have developed addictions of their own. The tough older sister has beaten back the booze and now works for Terrance County Human Services, pulling kids out of homes no worse than hers was. Younger brother Luke is another story: his using and dealing are out of control. When things get too hot for him at his place, he holes up at Leah’s. Stressed by her needy brother and her relentless job, Leah decompresses courtesy of an affair with Pete Kemper, a cop who helps Human Services investigate abuse cases. But Leah’s childhood attachment issues keep Kemp at arm’s length. Worse yet, two of their joint cases go south. Baby Ben is airlifted to the hospital covered with bruises, bones broken. It seems a slam-dunk that mom’s drunken boyfriend is to blame. But questions about whether Kemp read him his Miranda rights block Human Services’ legal team from pushing the case forward. Even worse, Kemp and Leah’s investigation of the rape of a high school student gets derailed when the trail leads a little too close to home. Leah’s co-workers try to protect her, especially Amanda Danscher, the newest member of the team, whose checkered past rivals Leah’s. But Leah needs to close her cases fast before her personal and professional woes send her right back into the bottle.
Johnson (Unprotected, 2012) draws on 20 years’ experience as a child protection worker in this chilling look at the darker side of childhood.