Mary Crow, kickass Atlanta prosecutor, ditches her nice anthropologist boyfriend in Peru to return to her native North Carolina mountains for a reunion with her previous, less urbane boyfriend—and stumbles on small-town depravity.
This is at least the third homecoming for Bissell’s bilingual beauty, who bailed out of the big city in 2001 (In the Forest of Harm) and 2002 (A Darker Justice). But she really means it this time. She’s going to reconnect with dreamy Jonathan Walkingstick, now single and available, and complete with an adorable daughter. But before she can put her love life in order, Mary has to get a job. Shouldn’t be a problem, given the fabulous criminal prosecution success rate she earned in Atlanta. Alas, one of the bad guys she put away, well, killed, was the sheriff of Pisgah County, where she’s looking for work, and the local political machinery has declared her non grata. Spunkily hanging out her shingle as a general practitioner, Mary is quickly involved in lurid local criminality. Ridge Standingdeer, the broad-shouldered, moody, artistic, backwoods Indian hunk working for Mary’s Irish horse-trainer friend Hugh, is the prime suspect in the tomahawk murder of his girlfriend, a high-school senior who’s been sexually abused for years by Deke Keener, the richest man in the county. Keener, a developer with a taste for prepubescent blondes, hires his old debating foe Mary to keep her busy and distracted from the scenes of his many crimes. But Mary, convinced of Ridge’s innocence, steps in to his defense. Her only professional assistance comes from a pair of snoopy preteens, the sister of the victim and the next target on Keener’s disgusting list.
There’s a big, vengeful spectral bear and some Indian magic, but not a lot of real tension. Too bad. Mary Crow, when she’s not being perky and upbeat, is fairly attractive and could be interesting.