A rash of grisly torture/murders of upscale Portland, Oregon, housewives--each kidnapped by someone who leaves behind a black rose and a note saying ``Gone, but not forgotten''--turns out to have unholy roots in an identical series of killings across the country a decade earlier. Martin Darius, the megalomaniac developer accused of the crimes, swears he's innocent. But Nancy Gordon, an ex-detective from Hunter's Point (New York) homicide, tells his lawyer, Betsy Tannenbaum, that he's Peter Lake, whom she's convinced was behind the Hunter's Point killings--including those of Lake's wife and young daughter. Betsy's own investigation points to a coverup nine years ago: Lake was pardoned by police and a governor desperate to find starving kidnap victims that Nancy Gordon never mentioned to Betsy. Now that that governor's nomination to the Supreme Court could be jeopardized by any whiff of the pardon, Darius admits to Betsy that, yes, he's Lake and that he did indeed kill those women back then--but not the current victims, whom he insists obsessive Gordon has murdered in order to frame him. Gordon, meanwhile, has disappeared, and a third suspect has surfaced: Samantha Reardon, a surviving Hunter's Point victim whose graphically detailed captivity may be fueling a psychotic thirst for revenge. ``Can you imagine a case you wouldn't take?'' a reporter asks Betsy about her repulsive client--but in fact Betsy's ethical dilemma is only the beginning of her troubles. Margolin's writing won't win any prizes (``Darius was in Betsy's soul''; he's ``not just a bad person, but pure evil'')--but this slick, pulpish first novel will keep an awful lot of people up until dawn.