Mickelbury (Night Songs, 1995, not reviewed) kicks off a new series starring Carole Ann Gibson, a black D.C. lawyer who's got it all--a loving lawyer husband, a bungling bank account, a stack of pro bono acquittals (like her latest, a defense of accused cop/bagman Tommy Griffin)--and no job. After C.A. breaks her longtime public silence to scold the press for the way it's pilloried Tommy during his trial, her boss lowers the boom, and she resigns. Since her husband, Alain Crandall, is leaving his job, too--the latest revelations about his dirty corporation client, Parish Petroleum, are making him as sick as Parish's employees--it looks as if D.C.'s two wealthiest unemployed members of the bar will be able to do lunch every day, till Al is shot dead in an apparent mugging attempt that wouldn't fool a baby--or Metropolitan Homicide dick Jacob Graham, who gets shot and left for dead as a reward. But when C.A. follows the trail of Al's last trip to Cajun country, she uncovers, not just the usual Parish suspects, but an extended family as monstrous in its evil as it is unconvincing. The juicy Louisiana conspiracy is too big and evil and unexpected to yield as easily as it does to C.A.'s questions, even when those questions are put by an investigator with the most powerful motive in the world.