A lawyer turns sleuth to help a homeless youth uncover the story behind his mother’s murder.
Attorney Cal Claxton moved to Dundee to take it easy after he retired from working for the city of Los Angeles. Though Cal anticipates that he can spend time working on his fly-fishing now that he’s deep in Oregon, his plate is soon full of the jobs you’d expect to find in a small town. When a teenager comes to Cal begging for him to investigate a case, Cal tries to explain that investigating’s not in his job description. The kid, a rebellious Portland youth who goes by the name Picasso, wants someone to look into his mother’s death since he knows the police aren’t taking the case seriously. Picasso is convinced his mother’s former boyfriend Mitchell Conyers is the one responsible for her death, and he is ready to back up his beliefs with action. Cal tries to soothe Picasso while trying to find out if Mitchell’s sleek exterior hides more sinister motives. Meanwhile, Picasso spends his nights with other transients and his days painting a mural of hope on the exterior of a local free health clinic. These days of freedom may be over when he stumbles on a murder for which he is the prime suspect.
The motives and murders in Easley’s debut fit together like a set of nesting dolls, with each resolution leading to a new case. Cal comes across as an average guy who’s just trying to lend a hand.