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Judge Lara Sanderstone, young for the bench at thirty-eight, is a brilliant and brave woman whose judicial career suddenly takes second place to her hunt for the savage murderer of her young sister and brother-in-law. In the aftermath of the hideous crime, Lara is left with the victims' brutalized teenage son, Josh, on her hands and faced with the knowledge of the degradation that has consumed the sister she loved so much. Even more pressing, she herself is being stalked by a killer whose terrifying attacks leave no clue as to identity or motive. There is no safe haven for Lara-not in the Orange County, California courtroom where an agonizing case of child abuse and assault is putting the law on trial and the legal system through the wringer; not in the condo where she is hiding with the troubled Josh, whom she cannot abandon yet cannot fully trust; not in the arms of a high-powered lawyer who offers her sex without love in return for the comfort of his companionship. She must seek help from a tough homicide detective, to whom she is compellingly drawn, and from a computer genius crippled in body yet strong in spirit. Her life under a sinister sentence of death, her job hanging by an unraveling thread, she must search the corridors of power to uncover a sexual breeding ground for murder. And finally, what she discovers is as shattering to her faith and trust as it is fatally threatening to her and thos she loves.