It's Carnival Week 1981 in New Orleans, and Harry Preston, who'd normally have nothing more pressing to worry about than staying sober enough for the next preMardi Gras party, is up to his legal briefs in trouble. Elizabeth Berenson Bennett, already notorious for her unbuttoned sex life and her flamboyant disregard for social proprieties, wants him to handle her divorce--and, it rapidly develops, more personal needs as well. It's not just her hatred for Jack Bennett, she tells Harry; it's not even just the sex; it's her need for a rescuer to battle the demons from her family's storied past--a father who disappeared from his private island, leaving Elizabeth behind, when she was only eight; a mother who, according to Elizabeth's will, was ``never a mother''; a grandfather who wants to have her declared incompetent--and the unsavory old acquaintance who's blackmailing her. Bearish Jack turns up to threaten Harry and his poor little rich girl, but before he can do more than bluster and grind his teeth, he's murdered in the house Elizabeth just flounced out of, leaving the police wanting to interview the grieving widow, and Harry frantically maneuvering to avoid a cadre of gun-toting thugs as he chases her and his son Ike to wherever in the godforsaken Berenson holdings she's taken him. An intelligently steamy first novel aswarm with all the trappings of an upscale James Lee Burke--old-boy networks aged in bourbon, generational ceremonies and betrayals, family trusts and family madness.