The FBI's chief public-integrity officer recruits an honest California judge as his lure in a sting aimed at local judicial corruption. The judge learns more than he ever wanted to know about his friends and family in this behind-the-bench novel by the former prosecuting attorney who wrote Fugitive City (1990). No one who sticks with this intelligent but rather unhappy story will ever look at federal stings quite the same way again. Returning to Santa Maria, the fictional California setting of his earlier works, Wood presents Tim Nash, a second-generation judge deep in the middle of a grim murder-robbery trial when he's contacted by Neil Roemer, the FBI's one-man 60 Minutes team. Backed by the Attorney General and a blindly adoring public, Roemer specializes in rooting out public corruption whether it's there or not. His target now is the Santa Maria judiciary. The straight- arrow Nash is sufficiently shocked by Roemer's nameless charges to sign up for the battle. Within days, working with a sleazy little protected witness, Nash makes the rounds of his colleagues, offering great wads of cash for favorable judgments. The worst creep in the courthouse turns him down, but he is very nearly the only one. Men and women he admires and holds dear snap readily at the lure, and it hits Nash hard. Worse revelations about his revered father await, as do complications from a couple of undercover cops who have seen Nash consorting with a drug dealer they just busted. Such comfort as he receives comes from Roemer's attractive assistant, who tried to warn Nash off, knowing just how lonely and depressing the job would be. A little dry, but the problems posed are new and unusually interesting, and everything moves quite fast.