A young federal prosecutor snags the most important case of her career just as her personal life threatens to spin out of control.
While walking in New York City with her baby daughter Maya, prosecutor Melanie Vargas happens upon a bustling crime scene that turns out to be the violent murder of high-profile attorney Jed Benson. Benson’s troubled teenaged daughter Amanda was also left for dead by the killer(s), with several of her fingers cut off. Melanie schmoozes her way into the apartment and later aggressively lobbies her tough boss, Bernadette DeFelice, for the career-making case. Bernadette counters with criticism of Melanie’s lighter schedule since Maya’s birth. To get the case, Melanie commits to killer hours, not telling Bernadette (or anyone else) that husband Steve has recently moved out after a fight about his extramarital affair. Further complications ensue as Melanie grapples with the tyranny of Maya’s nanny, mixed emotions about Steve (who’d like to reconcile), and a strong attraction to Dan O’Reilly, the hunky FBI agent assigned to the case. Benson’s widow, Nell, tries hard to stop Melanie from talking to Amanda, whom she describes as fragile. Evidence points to the C-Trout Blades, a local gang heavily into the drug trade that was successfully prosecuted by Benson. Everyone seems to fear the Blades’ leader Slice, reluctantly fingered for the murder by a witness named Rosario. Dan promises protection, but Slice gets to Rosario anyway. Slice’s ex-girlfriend, a prostitute named Jasmine Cruz, suffers a similar violent death. In between episodes of the investigation, there’s much girl talk twixt Melanie and sassy sister Linda, architect pal Sophie, et al. The more layers she peels off the complex case, the less open-and-shut it seems, suspicion pointing not only at the Blades but also at Benson’s legal colleagues.
First-timer (and former federal prosecutor) Martinez stokes reader interest with a large, attractive cast, though she could use more subtlety in both writing and plotting.