Hilary Adams has just left her position as the Commonwealth Attorney in Louisville, Kentucky after she decided not to seek re-election. Instead she accepts an offer to head up a new criminal litigation division at a very prestigious law firm. Her first case is to defend a prominent journalist, Blake Hunter, from a murder charge after he wakes up one morning in a seedy motel totally unable to remember how he got there.
Hilary is a very smart lawyer and she is now married to Peter Elliott, Louisville’s police chief. He’d wanted her to run for re-election since it made sense to him that both of them would be on the same side, namely the prosecution of crimes. Hilary loves Peter, but finds it unfair that he should expect her to change her career. I thought that the interactions in this complex issue were handled very realistically and sensitively and it was fun to watch the two of them work this out. This side issue made the characters much more real and three dimensional.
The plot is very well-developed and Hilary has to match wits with a sociopath who has worked out what appears to be a full-proof plan to frame Blake Hunter. I was especially impressed with the way the tension developed, with excellent pacing, so that by the end, events reached the point of sheer terror.
The shifting point of view from Hilary to the murderer is extremely well done. The reader can see what’s happening, although the who is kept well concealed, and I was on the edge of my seat trying to ‘will’ Hilary to the solution. I needn’t have worried. She is well equipped to handle the situation even with a number of side distractions.
Deadline for Murder is the fourth in the Hilary Adams series, but it works fine as a standalone. I highly recommend it, and indeed the entire series. Linda Y. Atkins has crafted a fine main character with lots of interesting supporting characters in a deviously fiendish murder mystery.
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