Though Carolyn Sullivan has been promoted to division manager of the Ventura County Probation Department and is about to marry Mr. Right, her woes continue when a top investigator is killed.
Veronica Campbell is on the skids. Painfully aware that her husband Drew no longer loves her and strung out by the impossible demands of her depressing caseload and her four children, she’s been fabricating interviews she should be taping and basing her recommendations on hunches instead of evidence. But all that ends the day she’s shot to death at the Motor Inn. Veronica was certainly depressed enough to have taken her own life. But Carolyn (Sullivan’s Justice, 2005, etc.) is convinced her old friend was killed by person or persons unknown—a belief that’s bolstered by a series of shocking revelations by Veronica’s hell-raising daughter Jude. A drug-using high-school dropout who was twice pregnant before she turned 18, Jude sends the investigation into a startling new direction by a fusillade of accusations directed variously against her father and her sometime boyfriend, Reggie Stockton. The trouble with Jude’s stories is that she changes them constantly. No sooner has Carolyn, who’s taken the potty-mouthed waif into her home, hauled her into a deposition than Jude recants her accusations and disappears with the court reporter’s credit card. And Reggie, it turns out, is just as slippery, changing his autobiography to suit the weather. Two more murders will turn up the temperature but do nothing to clarify the mystery, which just keeps getting muddier and muddier. The only thing that’s clear is that Carolyn’s imminent marriage to millionaire computer consultant Marcus Wright is unlikely to go off as planned.
A thousand thrills, a dozen hairpin turns, more overripe suspects than you can shake a warrant at and a near-total lack of coherence once the dust has cleared.