Bernhardt's latest novel featuring defense attorney Ben Kincaid begins with the kidnapping of a child on Ben's home territory of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and creatively meshes into a murder outside Chicago.

As law enforcement officials act quickly to save the life of the kidnap victim, the kidnappers inexplicably disappear. Three months later, two fraternity brothers are on trial near Chicago for the beating death of a gay man, Tony Barovick. Chaos ensues in the courtroom when someone murders one of the defendants and wounds the defense attorney. Then the mother of the other defendant asks that her son be represented by Ben, who refuses the case, but his partner, Christina McCall, agrees to take it.

While Johnny has admitted to beating Tony, he claims to have no idea how Tony's body got to the fraternity house where the police found him dead. Eventually, Ben agrees to aid Christina in Johnny's defense—a case that seems impossible to win.

In this smoothly plotted novel of suspense, there is no end to the drama, as Tony's death and the missing kidnappers are tied together. A superb thriller. (Feb., 368 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick