A former prosecutor is determined to save a man accused of murder in this “completely engrossing” legal thriller from the New York Times–bestselling author (Detroit Free Press).
During a sleepover with her two friends, Emma goes missing. The owners of a local news network, her parents have money and power. As the police scour the city, Emma’s father offers a $250,000 reward for his daughter’s safe return. Eight days after the abduction, two hikers find her. Emma has been dead for days. After a year’s fruitless search, the police make an arrest, picking up the network’s star anchorman. As Emma’s father brays for blood, Luke Garrison is the only person who dares to stand in his way. Once a merciless District Attorney, Luke became a defender after mistakenly sending a man to the gas chamber. Now he will let no one—not even a bereaved father—rush justice. But is he doing the right thing, or is he fighting to set a killer free?
After forays into the coming-of-age (The Obstacle Course) and PI (House of Smoke) genres, Freedman seems to have settled back, with last year's Key Witness and this new novel, into the sort of rambunctious legal thriller that made his reputation with his debut, Against the Wind. That book has been his high water mark, critically and commercially, and his new novel is unlikely to match it, despite a powerful premise, exciting plotting both in and out of the courtroom and Freedman's usual muscular prose. The opening here is immensely gripping: a teenage girl is apparently kidnapped from her Santa Barbara, Calif., bedroom during a slumber party, her wealthy family deals with the devastation of her disappearance, her body is found and, a year later, a hotshot TV newscaster is arrested for the killing. Freedman handles this sensitive material--obviously inspired by the real-life kidnap-slaying of Polly Klass--freshly and with appropriate gravity. He takes a turn toward the routine, however, when he introduces his hero, attorney Luke Garrison, whose very contrariness--he's a former DA who has fled to the woods in shame over a past failure, who rides a hog and sports a goatee and a ruby stud in his ear--makes him just one more dashing antihero. Luke agrees to defend the newscaster, plunging himself and his hot-blooded girlfriend/assistant into an adrenalized investigation and trial full of false leads, twists and brushes with death, all of which Freedman handles skillfully, other than pointing a blatant finger at the dead girl's father as the real culprit. So the ultimate unmasking of the killer comes as no big surprise, although Freedman's lurid handling of it is surprising--and, some might say, exploitative, as this talented writer turns what begins as a worthy re-imagining of a brutal tragedy into a histrionic page-burner. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild selections.