No matter what the population, information is power.
Small town and county politics are being played out in rural North Carolina. Andy Cole has taken over his father's law practice, playing the 'to get along, you go along' game with the local sheriff, cops, judges, DA. His conscious, aka office manager Max(ine), keeps him mostly on the straight and narrow, despite his two failed marriages (he's the definition of the old joke about men having 2 heads and only enough blood for one at a time).
Danny Fairgreen is in lockup for a particularly gruesome murder of Chloe, a local low rent party girl. Doesn't help that he was found passed out in a chair in her house with her gutted corpse at his feet. But no knife was found. Danny is kin to a particularly questionable clan in Blaine County with a history of drugs, other crimes against the local humanity, and maybe even murder. Danny's older brother Voit heads the family, including a set of intimidating twins, Liberty and Justice. Voit plops a big bag of money on Cole's desk to retain Andy for Danny's defense.
Cole's investigation starts out badly. A judge has sealed the murder scene. Cole get's p.o.'ed in arraignment court and ends in lockup for up to 30 days. He and Voit (backed up by Liberty and Justice) go back and forth trying to establish who swings the biggest dick in this relationship. And it seems the only person on his side, besides the people in his firm, is the lady who owns the local newspaper (see comment above about 2 heads and insufficient blood).
Danny can't remember anything, but is sure he didn't kill Chloe; too stoned that night. A random comment steers Andy toward Chloe's sealed juvenile records. Of course, he can't get them, but lo and behold, one day the records (not a copy, the original records) shows up at Cole's office. And the details start Andy down a path that he may wish he'd never ventured. With this ill-gotten information, now Andy has some power.
But that power, important to the case, is but one aspect of an iceberg that has been lurking in Blaine county for decades. It turns out Andy's father, whom he always thought of as a pillar of integrity, may have a chink or two, and those chinks date back to an affront to Voit's daddy. The power structure of Blaine County is about to come tumbling down like a house of cards, lopping off more heads than one can count.
I think this brings me up to date on all the titles by JD Rhoades (insert frown here), and if I'm wrong, I'm sure he will tell me as he's replied to recent reviews here at MRB. I've often wondered when an author writes a story resembles his day job or history (Rhoades in a practicing lawyer in Carthage, NC not far from Raleigh) just how much of the story is quasi-autobiographical. If any of this is, Rhoades has led an interesting life.
This rather grand tale of secrets, lies, and deception told on the local county level is not just a terrific legal procedural, it is also just one dang fine read. Rhoades expertly had me pulling for Cole to uncover the secrets, hope that Voit and clan really aren't as bad as everyone believes, believe that Cole and his newspaper owner/hottie/girlfriend really are made for each other, and that just maybe, the sun will shine a little brighter on Blaine County after the dust clears. The plot twists and the delicate dance of allegiances are unexpected and delicious. This really does have a lot to offer to readers of legal mysteries where the little guy really does squash the bad guys with extreme prejudice.
East Coast Don
p.s. to those with some rock 'n roll history, the story does not appear to be related to Warren Zevon's 1978 song of the same name.