When wealthy, philandering plastic surgeon Ronald Bushnell is dispatched with a bullet to his head and another to his groin, and two of his staff are murdered almost as afterthoughts—or potential eyewitnesses—L.A. Detective Jessie Drake and her partner Phil Okum find no shortage of suspects. There’s Bushnell’s unconvincingly grieving widow Celeste; his daughter Adrienne, who fought with daddy over the unsuitability of her boyfriend Ethan (who had lived with the family ever since his mom, Bushnell’s nurse, committed suicide when he was eight); Clara, a disenchanted client who was harassing the doctor; Barbara, a more recent nurse/lover he’d just fired; and his no-show last patient of the day, Clifford Bronte. Interrogating and finding all of them takes so much time that Jessie misses one of her Judaica classes and is late to light the Shabbat candles, while Phil makes little headway on another case they’re working. Furthermore, Jessie’s mom is lobbing barbs her way; her father is behaving suspiciously; and her sister, a former child-abuser, is pregnant again. Jessie’s ex-husband, a crime reporter, will press her for a scoop, and her new suitor Ezra will decipher a clue in Hebrew that will lead Jessie to another of the doctor’s liaisons, as well as to a suicide and a husband’s enmity, before she wraps up the case.
Jessie’s fifth outing (Dead Air, 2000, etc.) mixes an unbelievably naive rabbi trying to treat sociopaths, a double dose of half-hearted misdirection, and a few genuinely peaceful moments when Jessie sits down for some religious introspection.