Finally, a courtroom drama to rival Presumed Innocent: The scandal-strewn, hugely entertaining story of what happens after a glamorous TV reporter shoots America's most famous writer in his San Francisco hotel room. As soon as the police take Mary Carelli in after her 911 call, she admits killing Mark Ransom but insists she was defending herself against a rapist who was so obsessed with the story of movie-star Laura Chase--who shot herself 20 years ago after a devastating weekend (never before made public) in which Senator James Colt and two friends repeatedly assaulted her--that he could perform sexually only to the accompaniment of an audiotape of that weekend he'd secretly obtained. Now that James Colt, Jr., is running for governor, the D.A.'s office is under pressure to keep that tape under wraps. Meanwhile, another tape of Ransom forces Mary to confront ugly secrets about her own meteoric rise through her testimony 15 years ago against Presidential staffer Jack Woods--testimony that helped Woods's subordinate, rising star Christopher Paget, bring charges of corruption that destroyed both Woods and the President (as detailed in Patterson's first novel, The Lasko Tangent). Predicting the traumatic impact of these revelations on Paget's beloved son Carlo, whom she's never acknowledged as her own, Mary pressures Paget to defend her on the murder charge. When Mary's account of sexual assault begins to unravel, she seems dead in the water--until Paget uncovers evidence that Ransom had a long history of S/M fantasies with his wife, with an actress whose credits are just like Jane Fonds's, and with a New Yorker writer, whom he assaulted in exactly the same circumstances Mary describes. But there are dozens of fireworks, both in and out of the courtroom, left to come. Juicy hints of Washington secrets, agonizing decisions about professional and family loyalties, a backstory that plugs into all your most paranoid fantasies connecting the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe, and Watergate--and all this on top of a polished talc of courtroom intrigue. Patterson's target audience seems to be everybody who's ever read a book--and most of them will consider it money well-spent.