Ben Kincaid is back in William Bernhardts newest legal thriller. Ever since the disastrous Wallace case, Ben has decided to give up his legal practice and do something he really enjoys: play piano. Hes got himself a gig in one of Tulsas jazz clubs. Hes the only white man in the combo, but its no matter everyone likes him. Of course, his former employees at his law firm, especially erstwhile girlfriend Christina, would like him back in the legal profession, but Ben is disillusioned with life in general, and law in particular.

Things are going well until the corpse of a woman literally drops out of the ceiling on Ben during a grand opening-anniversary celebration.

The dead woman, Cajun Lily, is a former lover of the owner of the club, Earl. The killer has left his mark by engraving a happy face on her cheek. This is bad news for Earl. He served 22 years in prison for a murder, and the victim had a similar mark.

The police are putting no effort into their investigation since they believe they have the killer at hand. But Ben cant abandon a friend. He launches his own investigationone that may be the last thing he ever does.

This is such a compelling, thrilling tale, that reading it will leave you exhausted. Bernhardt is a powerful writer, adept at creating suspense, and wringing every possible feeling from the reader. Kind hearted, and hurt by the world, Ben Kincaid is one of those characters you cant help falling in love with. As a bonus, the author introduces a popular gimmick into the storyline, bound to please even the most cynical of readers. (Jan., 364 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg