San Francisco public defender Leo Maxwell just can’t catch a break. In fact, he can’t even cut himself loose from the selfsame villains that have been dogging him through three previous cases (Fox Is Framed, 2015, etc.).
The good news is that Leo and his co-counsel, Jordan Walker, have every chance of getting autistic, schizophrenic, chronic confessor Randall Rodriguez acquitted on the charge of having raped investment banker Janelle Fitzpatrick. The bad news is twofold: Rodriguez doesn’t want to be acquitted—he’d get better care inside prison than outside—and a few hours after Jordan dispatches Leo from her apartment after some sex that’s more than a victory round but less than true love, she's found horribly dead inside. The even worse news, at least from Leo’s point of view, is that the undocumented handgun he’d been given long ago but surrendered to Jordan to dispose of turns out to be the same weapon that murdered Russell Bell in prison. Bell, you may recall, is the former cellmate planning to testify against Lawrence Maxwell, Leo’s father, who was released from prison years after his conviction for killing his wife because criminal mastermind Bo Wilder hired the hit on Bell in order to put Lawrence in his debt. There’s gobs of back story like this, and you need every drop to keep up with the complications Smith keeps piling on as the cops Leo savaged during the Rodriguez trial are faced with the pleasant dilemma of whether to pin Jordan’s murder on him or lean on him until he tells them how he happened to be in possession of the gun whose murderous blast set his father free.
Fans of this estimable series already know that Smith is much better at digging his hero into deep holes than devising plausible explanations for his often dumb behavior or providing clues to the real killer. Newcomers are advised to hang on for one wild ride.