Posthumous novel from Zollinger (the huge and well-received Meridian: A Novel of Kit Carson’s West, 1997), much admired for his historical fiction and for his writer’s workshop in Taos. Much of his work appeared in mass-market paperbacks, this being his third hardcover for Forge.
Rick Garcia, district attorney of Chupadera County, New Mexico, a widower whose wife Kathy committed suicide via carbon monoxide in their garage, has been asked to run for governor. Will the road to Santa Fe be as clean as his race for district attorney? His campaign manager is also an attorney, Ashley McCarver, from Albuquerque, who admires Rick’s honesty and later becomes his lover. When they first meet, Rick is prosecuting a manslaughter case involving the deaths of three children from drinking river-water carelessly poisoned by a local mining operation, while Ashley has come to Black Springs for a civil suit and represents Candy Tanner, a single mother whose brain-damaged baby’s delivery was botched by a young Pakistani doctor. When Rick wins his case, Ashley’s father grills him, then prompts him to run for governor. Rick agrees, but soon finds that his chances of winning rather bleak, though not as bad as when he ran for district attorney. Winning the manslaughter case, as well as a further prosecution led by Rick against wealthy mine-owner Stanford Brown, puts Rick’s childhood friend Brown in prison, and, from his cell, Brown plots vengeance. Once Ashley marries Rick, only her political genius can help him fight the savage scandal that breaks out.
Though he was halfway through a sequel to Meridian, Zollinger’s farewell finds him in top form and with a lively grasp of the law.