A lawyer investigates the murder of an aspiring adoptive father: “A climax that will take most readers by surprise” (Chicago Tribune).
It’s Ben Kincaid’s first day as an associate at corporate giant Raven, Tucker & Tubb, and he’s ready to start the long climb up the ladder to partnership. But he’s barely cleared the first rung when a body trips him up. Ben’s first task is to arrange an adoption for one of the firm’s biggest clients—a bit of grunt work that becomes interesting when he meets the child in question. Emily suffers from Korsakov’s Syndrome, a rare disorder that prevents her from forming memories, and Jonathan and Bertha Adams want nothing more than to raise her as their own. But Kincaid has just begun getting the paperwork together when he gets a chilling phone call: Jonathan has been found dead, hacked to pieces in an alleyway. Investigating the killing will take Kincaid down a fearsome path, leading him to wish that, like Emily, he had the power to forget.
In his fiction debut, Bernhardt, a lawyer, delivers an appealing mystery with a wry perspective on corporate law and unlikely moments of high adventure. Sanguine Enterprises v-p Jonathan Adams and his wife Bertha want to adopt Emily, whom Jonathan found wandering on an empty lot; she is afflicted with memory loss, possibly as the result of emotional trauma. The case is handed to Benjamin Kincaid on his first day with a high-powered Tulsa, Okla., law firm; later that same evening Jonathan's mutilated body is discovered in a dumpster. Bertha is determined to keep Emily, and Joseph Sanguine assures Ben of his sympathy and assistance. But Ben's superiors instruct him to lay off investigating the murdere.g. p. 120 . His uneasiness escalates when he learns that Jonathan received mysterious phone calls and worked odd hours just prior to his death. Gradually Ben is drawn into an extracurricular (and illegal) investigation of Emily's past and Sanguine's finances. The tale is enlivened by characters like Christina McCall, an engaging, streetwise legal assistant, and Darryl Tidwell, a Sanguine employee and the author's revenge against people who tell lawyer jokes.