A bourbon-soaked southern lawyer (from a mythical state), still trying to come to terms with his father's disbarment following trumped-up conspiracy charges, finds his own life going down the same family tubes. Kendall Wilkinson's got plenty to feel depressed about even before he's charged with anything. His cousin Roger Dufault silences the whispers about his shady dealings in the Vista Mer development scheme only by getting beaten to death in a cheap motel room; he can't resist the velvet command of Roger's widow, Peyton, to resume their obsessive, hopeless affair; the sudden death of his uncle Niles Nesbitt hints that he too was involved in Vista Mer; and Niles leaves behind a homemade sex videotape--with evidence of more tapes--that could implicate half the politicians in Chirkie County, maybe even reaching as far as Elliot Dean, the muckraking lt. governor Roger had raised funds for. All this stuff is dynamite--or it would be, in hands less prosy and sensitive than first-novelist Canter's--so it's no surprise, except to Wilkinson, when a police search turns up half a kilo of flake in his car. His phone calls to Roger's old cronies and lunches with sexy, virtuous novice Assistant District Attorney Colleen Mulkerrin start to take on a distinctly desperate air as Wilkinson scrabbles, not for the truth about Roger's death, but for some way he can fade the heat. The big question: What's the connection between Niles's video collection and the rickety deals that sent Dean to the state capital? As if you didn't know. A southern-fried Presumed Innocent whose urgency is smothered by predictable plotting, layers of decorous flashbacks, and a thousand raised-eyebrow insinuations about good old boys you can barely tell apart.