Grace Simkanian had escaped from a communist country in upheaval when she was a teenager. Bright and beautiful, her family realized she would fast become a target for the soldiers or the rebels in the fighting. When she finally arrived in the United States she had some catching up to do academically. After her GED, she graduated from college and then law school. After a judicial clerkship, she joined a prestigious Philadelphia law firm.
Grace meets Detective Aidan McKenna in the county prison. Her firm planned to represent him pro bono, and she is sent to interview him. She discovers there is no paperwork to hold him, and she walks him out while the police get their act together.
All is not well in the Philadelphia police force. Aidan had turned his partner in six months earlier for being on the take from the mob. Unknown to him, she had retaliated by negotiating a plea bargain, naming him as the person who was a bigger fish in the extortion protection racket, and the one who had lured her into it.
So Aidan is charged with extortion, and Grace leaps into the fray. The most important thing to Aidan is that Grace and others believe him to be innocent. Graceís practice has previously been focused on the wealthy errant sons of the firm clients who were never innocent but managed to skate by virtue of their parents.
Aidan refuses the firmís offer for a pro bono representation and his large Irish family rallies around pooling their assets to meet the retainer. What follows is the partnership of Grace and Aidan in their search to find out who is responsible for Aidanís troubles.
This is a familiar plot line, but Beverly Bird by virtue of the creation of interesting characters makes it fresh and a bit different. Aidan is chivalrous almost to a fault and Grace has emotional baggage that would not be uncommon for a refugee who had to first learn the language and then educate herself.
The mystery and resolution of the extortion charge is somewhat predictable as well as the blossoming romance between Aidan and Grace. However, Bird carefully nurtures and sustains the sexual tension between them.
The pacing of the mystery solving seems to drag, essentially because Aidan is so charitable toward the partner who had betrayed him. Bird does family dynamics well, and those interactions add to an easy and enjoyable summer read.