Atlanta attorney Mary Crow, transplanted to Pisgah County, N.C., battles monsters criminal and domestic in her fifth case.
Something’s been subtly different about Mary’s live-in boyfriend, Jonathan Walkingstick, ever since he and his daughter Lily, 9, returned from a visit to her grandparents in Oklahoma. In Lily’s case, the difference is anything but subtle: She screams that she hates Mary and never wants to live with her since Mary killed her mother. Sure enough, Fred and Dulcy Moon filled their granddaughter with a hatefully selective account of her mother’s death during the visit, and now they’ve sued Jonathan for custody, contending that his lover would be an inappropriate guardian even if she hadn’t killed Lily’s mother. Mary would like nothing better than to spend every waking minute supporting Jonathan as he battles his in-laws, but she can’t; she’s promised to defend Dr. Nicholas Stratton, the director of Pisgah Raptor Rescue who’s accused of murdering Lisa Wilson, an intern who was infatuated with him and not shy about expressing it. Lisa took off from her full-bore pursuit of Nick to spend a night with five other Raptor Rescue interns at a remote cabin rumored to be haunted by Fiddlesticks, the man who, returning home to find his wife entertaining his best friend, slashed them both to death, then played his fiddle as they bled out. Lured outdoors by some unearthly fiddling as her friends slept, Lisa was stripped, strangled and so hideously mutilated that a photograph of her corpse fetches $25,000 from a tabloid rag. After an eight-year sabbatical, Mary (Legacy of Masks, 2005, etc.) works her hardest to defend Nick and stand by Jonathan, but there’s only so much of her to go around.
Of the two breathless tales Bissell intertwines, one ends with a crash of cymbals, and the other doesn’t end at all. To be continued.