A rich man is murdered, and suspicion falls on his much-younger mistress and the movie-obsessed nephew who is heir to his fortune.
When ace defense attorney Derek Mitchell meets stunning Julie Rutledge on a transatlantic flight, he’s far too distracted by her considerable charms to question his good fortune. Back on the ground, he discovers that his mile-high-club partner was not only the companion of wealthy blueblood Paul Wheeler, recently gunned down in a hotel stick-up, but one of the people most likely to benefit from his demise. For her part, Julie claims that her preemptive seduction was merely a ploy to ensure that Derek would be compromised and unable to represent Paul’s creepy nephew Creighton, whom she is convinced had Paul killed. Narcissistic, manipulative Creighton is certainly a piece of work, but does he really have what it takes to be a killer? Well, yeah, but he has an alibi, and although Derek really wants to believe Julie, he senses that she’s hiding something. Her fate lies in the unlikely hands of Billy Duke, a one-time con man Creighton somehow convinced to kill Paul, while keeping his own hands clean. As the evidence mounts against Julie, Creighton finds creative ways to torment her and Derek, borrowing liberally from the classic crime movies he watches repeatedly. Creighton’s twisted recipe for mayhem includes a bit of Hitchcock’s Frenzy, a lot of Strangers on a Train, and even a nod to The Godfather’s famous horse-head scene. The stakes keep getting higher until clearing Julie’s name becomes secondary to preventing the death of an innocent woman who happened to fall for the wrong guy.
Packed with surprises and the kind of propulsive plot for which Brown (Smoke Screen, 2008, etc.) is justly famous, this effort will not disappoint her readers. Too bad she doesn’t go any deeper with her characters, especially chivalrous Derek, who is far too nice to be convincing as a shark lawyer.