Half-Cherokee Atlanta ADA Mary Crow (In the Forest of Harm, 2000) returns once more to the woods of North Carolina, where the ghost of her murdered mother competes for attention with present-day miscreants.
Reverend Gerald LeClaire, the guileless prophet of FaithAmerica, thinks God wants him to be president. But his more sinister followers plan to fulfill his prophecy of doom for the false Solomons of the federal bench the old-fashioned way: by murdering a dozen sitting judges, one per month. Unfortunately, the overeager disciple of Sergeant Robert Wurth, the ex–Army man they’ve recruited to turn a camp for young offenders into a training ground for ask-no-questions foot soldiers, got carried away with execution #11, and the FBI is now alert to the threat to #12, Richmond appellate judge Irene Hannah, who practically raised Mary Crow after her parents died. Stung by the notion that justice needs armed guards, Her Honor has refused federal protection, and it’s Mary’s job to talk her into accepting it. But only the dullest readers will be surprised when Mary ends up as Judge Hannah’s protector herself, or when Wurth slips past the cordon FBI agent Daniel Safer has thrown up around the judge’s horse farm, stands over her with the lethal needle inches from her neck, and then decides that killing is too good for her. From this point on, the descent into standard-issue action is swift. The judge vanishes during an innocuous excursion into town; Mary, packed off in disgrace, sneaks back into town and goes hunting for her old friend; Safer hooks up with Jonathan Walkingstick, the ex-lover Mary still pines for, and goes after her; and the nation’s future lies in the hands of a juvenile offender who still hasn’t learned to ask no questions.
There’ll be more revelations about Mary’s parents, too, in a twist that threatens to turn this series into backwoods soap opera.