A novice lawyer signs on to an Oregon attorney’s practice just in time to catch a case that will leave her skeptical about just about everyone involved, including her boss.
Portland prostitutes Tonya Benson and Patricia Rawls were both tortured to death, but barista Meredith Fenner is lucky enough to escape her captivity and eventually leads Detective Carrie Anders back to the cabin where she was held. It belongs to dislikable attorney Alex Mason, whose DNA is found on a piece of cut tape used to gag Meredith. Things rapidly get worse for Mason even after legal superstar Regina Barrister agrees to defend him. His trophy wife, Allison, tells police that he enjoyed S/M sex, provides detailed descriptions of the games they played—which echo Meredith’s ordeal in several key particulars—and then files for divorce. Regina declines to pursue Arnold Prater, another highly plausible suspect, not because he’s a bent cop, but because of an elaborate series of relationships that create a conflict of interest. Worst of all, as Regina’s new associate, Robin Lockwood, gradually realizes, her boss, well-known for her laser-sharp ability to examine witnesses in court without notes, has suddenly developed awkward, sometimes-crippling gaps in her memory that she neither recognizes nor wants to talk about. Could they be a sign of early-onset Alzheimer’s? And whatever their cause, do they amount to a sufficient basis for a new trial for Mason, not the world’s most appealing defendant, if things continue to go as badly for him as they’ve been going ever since he was first taken into custody?
The setup is arresting, but the structure is awkward, with one large subplot awkwardly integrated and the final solution at once unlikely, obvious, and slow to arrive. A lesser outing for the highly variable Margolin (Violent Crimes, 2016, etc.).