I'm not who I used to be....The remark, whispered by a stranger on the street to Irene Kelly, becomes all the more unnerving when the newswoman realizes she knows the man. He's Lucas Monroe, her former college instructor who had looked forward to a brilliant future. Now he's a derelict in hiding, an unlikely suspect in blackmail and murder. What happened to Monroe's life strikes Irene as bizarre. But it's what happens to him in death that fills her with dread. Her long-lost mentor is found murdered, and whatever the picturesque town of Las Piernas is hiding has made some people very rich, very guilty, and very dangerous.
Newly married Southern California newspaper reporter Irene Kelly (seen before in Dear Irene, etc.) doesn't immediately recognize the bum on the bus stop bench who says he knows her. A few weeks later, meeting with some old friends, she learns that he was Lucas Monroe, her statistics teacher in college. That same night, she drives a friend home to find the woman's wealthy husband dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. The next day, the longtime Las Piernas city manager resigns, refusing to give a reason. While tracking that story, Irene hears that a closed circle of the city's rich and powerful men will convene in secret at a local restaurant. Dragging along her homicide detective husband, Irene crashes the rendezvous and is there when one of the men has a heart attack. She then discovers that each of the men at the meeting has been visited by Lucas and presented with a copy of a photograph. Tracing the connections among the city bigwigs, Lucas and the photograph, gutsy Irene gets to the bottom of a mystery that takes on the tangled history of a city's development. Burke is in top form here. Author tour.