Lightning strikes twice.
Two people have died in Lake Tahoe in shocking accidents. In a nearly empty parking lot, a hit-and-run driver kills probation officer Anna Meade Hallowell. High up on a jagged mountain, wife abuser Ray de Beers gets what he deserves: he's struck by lightning. Attorney Nina Reilly, hiking on a rare day off from her one-woman law practice, sees him die. So does her date, Tahoe deputy DA Collier Hallowell. Still shaken from his wife's violent death, Hallowell is hit hard by the accident. It's a bad end to a first date... and the start of a case that will test Nina's ethics and her heart.
Nina is certain de Beers's death is an act of God. But his aging father wants to exhume the body to rule out foul play. De Beers's frantic wife and teenage twins hire Nina to stop the disinterment. What gets unearthed are secrets that raise new questions about Anna Hallowell's death, an indictment against one twin for murder, and a damning piece of evidence that can convict the boy . . . unless Nina obstructs justice by hiding it. No good lawyer will take that kind of risk. But a brilliant lawyer, one with a passion for truth, just might . . . .
O'Shaughnessy (Invasion of Privacy; Motion to Suppress) brings back Lake Tahoe-area defense attorney Nina Reilly in a legal thriller that founders on coincidence. When Nina takes a romantic hike with handsome DA Collier Halloran, hoping to distract him from the long-unsolved hit-and-run death of his wife and the pressures of an upcoming election, their jaunt is anything but idyllic. A fierce thunderstorm lashes the mountain they're climbing; and they watch, horrified, as Raymond de Beers, the father of a squabbling family that had pushed past them on the trail, tumbles from the summit, apparently done in by a lightning bolt. Collier has a flashback to his wife's murder, and Nina refers him to her ex-lover, PI Paul van Wagoneran, to seek some closure by finding the killer. Then Quentin de Beers, the dead man's wealthy domineering father, insists his son's death was no accident. This sends the widow, Sarah, to Nina for help. After that, things get really complicated: Raymond's body is stolen; Quentin goes missing before the judge can rule on the case; and Sarah is sure her twins, Jason and Molly, are involved. Meanwhile, PI Paul tracks the car that killed Collier's wife and falls for a witness to the hit who's hiding a major secret. Not surprisingly, the two cases--the death of Collier's wife and the death of Raymond--converge, and, of course, Nina and Collier end up opposing each other in court. The action, while complicated, is fast and furious. But all that energy can't cover up unlikable victims, thin motivations and some uncharacteristic histrionics from Nina, all of which render the novel inferior to O'Shaughnessy's previous efforts. FYI: Perri O'Shaughnessy is the pen name of sisters Pam and Mary O'Shaughnessy.