Gardiner shelves hard-used series heroine Jo Beckett (The Nightmare Thief, 2011, etc.) in order to put even more wear and tear on an employed, overcommitted California lawyer.
Talk about your bad weeks. First Aurora Mackenzie’s foreign aid agency redefines itself away from her job. Upon her arrival back home in Ransom River, she’s instantly tapped for jury duty in the prosecution of Officer Jared Smith and Officer Lucy Elmendorf for shooting high school student Brad Mirkovic when he interrupted their tryst. Then a pair of masked gunmen break into the courtroom, shoot the judge and announce their intention of taking hostages, whose number of course includes Rory. A SWAT team ends the standoff, but Rory’s nightmare is just beginning, for Detectives Mindy Xavier and Gary Zelinski are convinced that she was in cahoots with the gunmen. Now the cops are watching her every move, waiting for the chance to arrest her for felony murder; the thuggish minions of Brad’s father, shady millionaire Grigor Mirkovic, are demanding that she tell them what really went down in the courtroom; and her manipulative cousin Nerissa and Riss' bullying stepbrother Boone, who’ve made Rory’s life hell ever since the invention of flashbacks, have popped up once more to torment her. Can Rory’s old flame Seth Colder, a former undercover cop now living in L.A., help her dodge the threats to herself and her dog (just as the dog she had in high school was also menaced) and follow the trail to the $25 million cache that’s behind the mayhem?
It’s hard to remember a time when a damsel was quite so distressed by so many different heavies. The tension, though synthetic, is so unrelenting that you’ll cheer when Rory finally walks away from it all.