It looked like a lost cause. Convicted of a brutal society murder in 1956, Lis Benedict had served a long sentence and just been released from jail. Then in a last desperate attempt to clear the Benedict name, her daughter Judy convinces All Souls Legal Cooperative to take her mother's case before the Historical Tribunal. Sharon McCone loves a challenge but has little affection for the cold and unlikable Lis. Then, suddenly, the woman in question is dead, a vicious threat is scrawled in red paint across the front of Sharon's house, and San Francisco's #1 P.I. is following a fresh trail of death that leads back to a wild debutante, a prestigious think tank, and the power politics of the 50s...all in search of a killer who has engineered a fatal cover-up and built a brilliant career on murder.
The 13th Sharon McCone mystery brings good luck to readers as Muller's veteran San Francisco PI explores crimes of passion and politics as they were played out in the Bay Area during the pre-Beat 1950s. In an intricate plot, McCone agrees to help lawyer Jack Stuart, her colleague at All Souls Legal Cooperative, build a case he will retry in the legal profession's Historical Tribunal. Stuart will defend Lisstet Benedict, who was recently released from prison after doing time for killing and mutilating her husband's young lover in 1956. Benedict was convicted on the testimony of her then-10-year-old daughter, now Stuart's lover, who hopes a new trial will turn up evidence, clearing her mother and exonerating herself. McCone finds herself emotionally drawn into the decades-old crime, especially to the murder scene--a now-uninhabited Seacliff mansion that then housed the Institute of North American Studies, a conservative think tank where Benedict's husband worked. Anti-Communist sentiment and personal betrayal figure large in the resolution of the 36-year-old crime and contemporary deaths that its revisiting inspire. Vintage Muller. Mystery Guild dual main selection; Reader's Digest Condensed Book selection.