Born into a fine old Charleston family, Hammond Cross is determined to be the city's next district attorney - without sacrificing his integrity. Prosecuting the sensational murder of real estate magnate Lute Pettijohn could be his ticket into the office. Yet while Hammond anticipates his success, someone near him is plotting his downfall...
Steffi Mundell, colleague, ex-lover, and rival for the D.A.'s office...Rory Smilow, the homicide detective without equal and Hammond's avowed enemy...the wily and beautiful Davee Pettijohn, Lute's widow and Hammond's lifelong friend who's too honest to mourn the husband she despised...and Hammond's prime suspect, the mysterious woman who shares the secret that would be fatal to Hammond's ambitions.
For the first time in his career, he's bending the rules in favor of the suspect. All clues point to her guilt. Yet she holds in reserve the perfect alibi - Hammond Cross. Is she a master manipulator who set him up? Or an innocent victim?
According to her publisher, Brown (Unspeakable, 1998, etc. etc.) has had 37 titles on the New York Times bestseller lists in the past nine years, some of them reprints of her Texas! trilogy and other earlier works. With her latest weighing in at nearly 500 pages, she's one speedy typist - and as styleless as a Latin dictionary, with meticulously clipped sentences compounded of industrial connectives. Charleston assistant district attorney Hammond Cross unaccountably finds himself at a county fair, where he meets a mysterious woman and saves her from hungry servicemen. She leads him on, then fades into the night. Meanwhile, Charleston's biggest developer and satyr, Lute Petitjohn, is murdered in the Charles Towne Plaza. Lute was the ex-brother-in-law of top detective Rory Smilow, who is investigating the murder and whom sexy assistant county solicitor Steffi Mundell begs to help her land this super-high-profile case. All avenues at last lead to Dr. Alex Ladd, the very woman Hammond was dancing with while the murder occurred. But Hammond can't reveal he's her alibi without compromising his job as a legal-evidence-gatherer for the city. A story Brown's fans will savor, however charmless its language. (Kirkus Reviews)