TV personality and former prosecutor Nancy Grace serves up a grisly, gripping tale of murder that delves into political corruption and eco-terrorism as she introduces Hailey Dean in the first of a planned series. Grace, whose own fiance was the victim of a senseless street shooting weeks before their wedding, draws on her own experiences in presenting Dean as a feisty Atlanta prosecutor who has never lost a capital case. At the outset of this mystery, Dean is seeking the death penalty for Clint Burrell Cruise, a sociopathic chef linked to the rape and murder of 11 prostitutes. With a wicked twist of dark humor, Cruise is terribly upset at the guilty verdict, not because he is innocent of the first 10 murders, but because he insists the 11th victim was not his handiwork.
Credulity may be a tad strained midway into this mystery when the master prosecutor forsakes the courtroom to take on a less stressful stint as a therapist in New York (her original career goal before she vowed to avenge her fiance's death by prosecuting bad guys). But the author circles around nicely when, back in Atlanta, Georgia Supreme Court Judge Clarence E. Carter enters into a dark deal with the Democratic State Chairman, Floyd Moye Eugene to provide the swing vote that will free Cruise in exchange for a run for governor. The always greedy Eugene is also set on developing the pristine and heretofore protected St. Simons Island off the Georgia coast. Meanwhile, newly-freed serial killer Cruise arrives in New York, still smarting from the conviction for that 11th murder and intent on revenge.
Grace manages to tie all these subplots together in a satisfying mystery that employs the aforementioned hint of humor amidst the horror. In the end, the bad guys get their just desserts in some rather bizarre ways. Moreover, when the real killer of the 11th victim surfaces to threaten Dean's life, the identity will surprise most readers, although there are plenty of clues pointing to the culprit along the way in this twist-and-turn debut.