Most couples have secrets they hide from the world, but Dell and Dolly's are very special. While they now live on a small farm in Oregon, they each had very different lives in the past. Dolly was a trauma nurse who worked in the worst places in the world. Dell was a former mercenary and member of the Foreign Legion and when they met, they vowed to move somewhere quite and gentle.
But when the star of the girl's softball team shoots the most popular boy in school in the hallway, Dolly becomes convinced that there is more to the story that anyone will admit. She asks Dell to "look into it," and there isn't anything he won't do for his Dolly. She's friends with many of the local teenagers and while there were witnesses to the shooting, she insists that MaryLou must have had a reason for the murder. Dell finds her a lawyer, but she refuses to do anything to help him. She agrees to not saying anything to anyone about the shooting, but won't tell him any reason why she might have committed the crime.
Dell works with MaryLou's lawyer on the case, as she could potentially be sentenced to death. But Dell knows the local D.A. doesn't want a trial and he'll be pressuring MaryLou to make a deal. At the same time, Dell investigates Cameron Taft, the murdered teen, who seemed like an unlikely person to be the school's most popular boy. He didn't belong to any teams or clubs and didn't seem to have any connections that would explain his popularity. But as Dell digs into a local teen hangout and source for drugs, he uncovers a gang of teens all sporting a mysterious Asian tattoo. He discovers they are part of an elite local gang and Taft seemed to be their leader when he was killed. Among other crimes, they're linked to an initiation of local girls that involves drugging and then multiple rapes of the women. It doesn't sound as if MaryLou were part of that, but if not, then why kill Cameron?
Then Dell uncovers two facts that will change the case. He realizes that MaryLou's younger sister Danielle was involved with this gang. He also discovers that these rapes have been going on for years and local authorities have ignored them. He also traces the origins of the gang a man named Ryan Teller, a former soldier who founded the gang more than a decade ago before leaving town. As he investigates, the court case begins and from the beginning Dell and the lawyers realize the only way to set MaryLou free is for a non-guilty verdict. They have to convince the jury that while what MaryLou did was wrong, she was doing it for what she thought were the right reasons.
The defense brings a number of former rape victims to the stand and they testify that their claims of rape had been ignored by the police. They talk about Cameron and his role in the crimes. MaryLou testifies about her fear that Danielle would be at the mercy of Cameron's evil, especially since she was enamored with the teen. In the end, the jury acquits MaryLou and she will be able to go to college as planned. The gang is in tatters and is unlikely to ever hurt a local girl ever again. And month later, Dell tracks down Ryan Teller in Denver and kills him in an alleyway near a local bar where he had been recruiting his next victim.
Best part of story, including ending:
The plot is complex and unpredictable. It's a premise I hadn't seen before and it's written in a way that's very life-like and emotional.
Best scene in story:
My favorite is the one in which MaryLou realizes that her younger sister Danielle isn't as innocent as she thought. She realizes that while Cameron Taft deserved to die, she killed him to protect a sister who is already beyond protection.
Opinion about the main character:
Dell is is unusual character. He is comfortable with violence and killing. But he is also protective of his wife and has a compassion and gentle side that helps to lessen the evil in his heart.