Set in the Sunriver area with lots of local detail, including many scenes in the gorgeous outdoors. Dan, the series sleuth, is a young attorney at loose ends. His job at a Portland law firm ended, with hopes that they may rehire him if business picks up enough. He is spending the summer living with his parents in the Sunriver area and training vigorously to compete in a triathlon. On a morning run, he stops by Ken Winterpol’s house, hoping to speak with Ken’s wife Candy. Instead he is shocked to find Ken lying injured on the porch steps. EMT’s were called, the injured man taken to the hospital and police arrived. Concerned that they could be considered suspects, Dan quickly informed the police that they would seek legal counsel before answering questions, Dan’s area of expertise was not criminal law and he wanted to be sure Candy was protected. Candy is an artist, developing quite a reputation and being featured in important galleries, her temperament is definitely artistic; she would need competent practical advice. Dan has known Candy for years; she was one of his father’s art students and a frequent visitor to their home. The same day, Leon, Dan’s father, flees Central Oregon, on a circuitous route, severing contact. The police are eager to question him, but he is nowhere to be found. When Ken dies of his injuries Dan fears they will be prime suspects. After all Dan and Candy found Ken, had his blood on them, and they were the only people present, it would be normal for the police to take an interest. So Dan starts digging into Ken’s past and his business dealings, a self-made man known to be ruthless, there are plenty people with an axe to grind with Ken and few who mourn his demise. The action goes all over Central Oregon, and even has a connection to local brewpubs.— Deon Stonehouse
Dan Martinez, twenty-eight, laid off from his job with a law firm in Portland, Oregon, decides to train for an off-road triathlon in rural Central Oregon. After a run, Dan comes to the back door of his childhood friend, Candy Winterpol, to find Candy's husband, Ken, barely conscious on his deck. Dan and Candy help Ken into the kitchen and call 911. When Detective Breuninger of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Department arrives with the medics, Dan and Candy realize they may be charged with attacking Ken (and ultimately murdering him when he dies that afternoon). Dan arranges a criminal attorney for Candy and protects himself using what he can remember from law school, where he studied business, not criminal, law.
When a neighbor tells Dan he saw Dan's father in the vicinity, Dan decides he must protect his father, as well as Candy and himself, from arrest and possible conviction. Meanwhile, Dan's father disappears.
Dan undertakes to protect Candy, his father, and himself by identifying other people who had reason to kill Ken. He uncovers Ken's fraudulent business practices, his bribery of public officials, his early life as a drug dealer, and his bitter relationship with his previous wife. When Dan delivers a host of suspects to Detective Breuninger, the detective arrests Dan himself in the hope of learning what Dan is trying to hide.
Amy De Santis, twenty-three, attends the funeral of her landlord (Ken) and is accosted by his sister who sees a family resemblance. Amy believes Ken might be the father for whom she never had a name. Amy meets Dan and finds they are both training for the same triathlon. They eventually fall in love, though Dan is wary of a girl who stands to gain from Ken's estate.
Dan finally identifies the murderer, who attempts to kill Dan, and fights the killer in a life and death struggle deep in the Oregon forest.
The novel is narrated in various sections by Dan, Candy, Dan's father, Amy (Dan's girlfriend), Detective Breuninger, and, in a letter he left behind, Ken Winterpol - the murdered man himself.