What do women really want?
Charlie Preston wants her dad, Brad, a corporate lawyer, to stop using her as a punching bag and her stepmom Bea, a born-again do-gooder, to stop carting her off to private sanitariums for problem children. Professor Sally Adler (Bad Company, 2002, etc.), who teaches women’s-history courses in Laramie, Wyo., wants to rescue her student Charlie, but has to settle for lending her money to disappear. That changes when Brad is murdered and a lug wrench found at the scene of the crime has Charlie’s fingerprints and those of her boyfriend Billy on it. Sally becomes obsessed with absolving Charlie, a task that brings her into conflict with her pal Dickie, the sheriff, and Hank, her lover, and throws her into the orbit of glib attorney Dave Haggerty, who, for personal reasons, represents Billy when he’s thrown in jail for the crime. When Charlie finally surfaces, she’s whisked off to another private sanitarium by Bea. Sally’s rescue odyssey takes her to abandoned drug houses, student domiciles recently resold at scandalously high prices and even the tabernacle fronting Bea’s Traditional Family Fund.
Sally’s love life is not nearly as interesting as the author thinks it is, and the rest of the plot is about two decades behind the advent of women’s lib.