A controversial case brings lawyer Henry Rios back home to Oakland - and into the sights of a stone-cold killer. It's been almost a decade since Henry Rios has seen his sister, Elena. A troubled family history has left them both with unhappy memories. But his visit with his sister isn't the reunion he imagined. As Rios comes to terms with the results of his partner's HIV test, Elena asks him to defend Paul Windsor, someone they grew up with - who has a history of pedophilia and has just been charged with murder after his fingerprints were found at a crime scene.
A burnt-out public defender battling alcoholism, Henry Rios has reached a crossroads in his life. While interviewing his former lover Hugh Paris in jail, Rios goes through the motions, but notices that Paris is far more polished and well off than the usual suspects arrested for drug possession. Paris is mysteriously bailed out - but a few weeks later, he turns up on Rios's doorstep. Skittish and paranoid, he admits to using heroin and says he's afraid that his wealthy grandfather wants to murder him.
"Excellent, elegantly written, darkish mystery"
In his latest case, Henry Rios may have something few defense attorneys ever experience: A truly innocent client. It’s a cause Henry Rios can’t resist: Defending a young gay man on trial for killing the coworker who threatened to out him. Jim Pears is charged with first-degree murder; Pears says he’s innocent but the evidence is damning. Pears was found covered in the victim’s blood and with the murder weapon in his hand. But nothing about the People v. Jim Pears is what it seems.
Henry explores his Mexican-American roots as he defends a young Latino accused of murdering a rising Latino politician. A strong emotional connection with both the victim and his accused killer results in a deepening internal conflict for Henry as he battles L.A.’s corrupt political machine and faces Josh’s impending death from AIDS.
Still reeling after the death of his former lover, criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios unwisely falls for a young actor whom he had successfully defended on trumped-up burglary charges. But just hours after a date with Rios, the man is brutally murdered - and the trail of circumstantial evidence leads an unscrupulous police detective to Rios' doorstep. And when a second young man, and then a third, are found dead, Rios must fight not only to exonerate himself, but to save his very life.
In Michael Nava's final Henry Rios mystery, the gay Latino lawyer faces his most daunting personal and professional challenges as he comes to terms with his past - and a cache of family secrets. Henry Rios was dead for fifty-seven seconds when he suffered a heart attack in the courtroom. While he recovers, his sister, Elena, stays with him at the hospital, and they begin to repair their strained relationship, finally airing their thoughts and regrets about their childhood in an abusive home. But Elena has an extra surprise for Rios: Thirty years ago, when she was in college, she had a baby and gave her up for adoption.
As protagonist Henry Rios investigates his friend Chris Chandler's murder, he begins to discover that the State Supreme Court judge's life had not been at all what it appeared to be, as Chandler's young gay lover begs for protection and other secrets begin to come to light.