Can a fresh, young, brilliant (not to mention beautiful) judge fight off sleazy politicos out to get her and emerge shining and triumphant? (Is the Pope Catholic?) Kathleen Talbot is the head prosecutor in an unnamed city very much like Detroit; she does her job effectively, and rumor has it she's a strong potential candidate for Governor. Only problem is, she doesn't have much of a personal life (those in the know call her Kathleen the Ice Queen), and her little son Michael is wasting away for want of his mother. So, she decides to take the less time-consuming job of circuit court judge. At first all goes well and her sex life even heats up with the arrival of top criminal lawyer Jerry Mitchell: soon, however, Kathleen is caught up in hardball politics when her name is placed in nomination for the job of executive judge, a powerful, traditionally corrupt position. The other circuit judges--backroom sexist cronies almost to a man--try to sabotage her by giving her the highly controversial case of a cop on trial because he pulled the plug on a brain-dead robbing victim in order to have the criminal charged with murder rather than simple assault. An unscrupulous reporter even comes up with a report that Kathleen pulled the plug on her own father (true, but under entirely different, legal, circumstances). Kathleen nearly knuckles under all this nastiness, but fights back with the help of a legendary old lawyer, presides over her case flawlessly, and even survives an assassination attempt by a religious nut. Coughlin (a Detroit judge turned novelist--Twelve Apostles, Her Daughter, The Stalking Man will never be known for his deathless prose), but here he manages a somewhat unlikely but fairly suspenseful courtroom procedural.