For Butch Karp, chief assistant district attorney for New York County, the nightmare begins when a shocking act of negligence results in homicide. Goaded by the media's sensational publicity, the public is screaming for blood, and Karp's boss, D.A. Jack Keegan, is listening. He has ordered the prosecution of a fifteen-year-old for murder, intent on making a very public example of the girl. A Hispanic from a poor neighborhood, she's an easy mark for big-city bureaucracy and bigotry. It is Butch Karp's unpleasant job to see that the prosecution gives the public what it wants: a quick and thorough administration of hard-line justice.
Complicating matters further is Butch's wife, Marlene Ciampi, a private investigator who has decided to return to practicing law. Her first case takes her a few hundred miles south to a small Delaware town, where an equally unspeakable tragedy has taken place. Marlene, however, has the unenviable task of taking on a politically ambitious local prosecutor who is pressing to charge a suburban teenager with capital murder.
With Butch and Marlene squaring off on opposite sides of an increasingly incendiary national debate, things couldn't get any more tense...until a shocking turn of events puts their daughter, Lucy, at the center of a horrifying crime. Suddenly, everything they believe in is challenged, and they are drawn into a maelstrom of big-city politics and small-town values, where justice is sacrificed to the twin gods of public perception and expediency -- and Karp must struggle to salvage his self-respect, his career, and his life.