Social worker Claire Conover honestly believed she could make a difference in the world until she gets the phone call she's dreaded her entire career. One of her young clients, Michael, has been found dead and his mother, Ashley, has been arrested for his murder. And who made the decision to return Michael to Ashley? Claire Conover.Ashley had seemingly done everything right-gotten clean, found a place to live, worked two jobs, and earned back custody of her son. Devastated but determined to discover where her instincts failed her, Claire vows to find the truth about what really happened to Michael.What Claire finds is no shortage of suspects. Ashley's boyfriend made no secret that he didn't want children. And Ashley's stepfather, an alcoholic and chronic gambler, has a shady past. And what about Michael's mysterious father and his family? Or Ashley herself? Was she really using again? Amidst a heap of unanswered questions, one thing is for certain: Claire Conover is about to uncover secrets that could ruin lives-or end her own.
Fenton puts her experiences as a social worker to good use in her promising debut. After toddler Michael Hennessy dies of a drug overdose, Claire Conover, of the Birmingham, Ala., Department of Human Services, doesn t believe the boy s mother, Ashley, spiked his sippy cup. Ashley, who has a history of hardcore drugs and booze, had been working too hard to get clean in order to regain custody of Michael. Determined to find the real killer, Claire sets out on a course that could cost her career or even her life. Fenton paces her straightforward plot well, but her real strength is in the way she develops her characters relationships. A number of secondary players an investigative reporter and a guy who knows his way around a computer pave the way for a sequel. With her fine ear for regional speech, Fenton may do for Birmingham what Margaret Maron has done for rural North Carolina.