New York and Miami – The Present
Lauren is the ex-wife of New York lawyer Brian Silverman. He is making millions of dollars with his law firm partner Steve Cohen. Lauren is also a lawyer, but she practices in the New York family court system. She doesn’t make the money Brian does, so depends on his alimony checks to support herself and their daughter Emily in the expensive city. It killed her to do so, but when she could no longer control Emily and the crowd she was hanging with in high school, she let Brian take over custody of Emily. She didn’t want Emily to end up like herself. In her teens poor choices led her into some unfortunate and dangerous situations. Her parents had both been drug addicts which led Lauren into making some very bad decisions. She overcame her past and desperately wants to protect Emily. Brian owns an expensive house in a better part of the city with his second wife Jessica. It places Emily in a better school system, and Brian can control the rebellious teenager better. Brian had cheated on her with Jessica before the divorce, and it left Lauren feeling inadequate and with low self-esteem. She calls Jessica her ‘wife-in-law,’ a term she learned in family court. Then Brian’s secretary Peggy calls Lauren. Lauren learns Brian was found burned in his bed while on a trip to Miami. She flies to Miami with both Jessica and Emily, but they are too late, Brian died.
While initially Steve told the two widows-in-law everything would be all right, he soon stops taking their calls. Then he claims Brian wasn’t really a partner and they will be getting nothing from his law practice. Lauren thinks this a fabricated story. Brian was the better lawyer and had told her his share of the firm’s contingency fees was worth millions of dollars. She and Jessica work to discover the truth, and from there everything goes downhill. Jessica witnesses the murder of Brian’s friend Jordon Connors, threats are made against Lauren, demands and threats come from criminal enterprises, and Jessica and Emily are arrested. All this leads to some very dangerous situations. Why was Steve being so deceptive, and just what was Brian up to? Carl Cintron, an FBI agent, takes great interest in Brian’s case despite being told to move on since Brian is dead. He already knows he has an even greater interest in Brian’s first wife.
The viewpoint shifts from Lauren to Jessica, to Emily, to Carl, and even to Brian before his death. Everything for everyone is tied up in convoluted circumstances. The story isn’t sorted by chapters but by dates and character viewpoints. It is a gripping read about changing relationships and hidden desires and motives, criminal conduct, and overcoming almost insurmountable odds. A great read with emotional, smart and thoughtful characters caught in unfathomable positions, which makes this a Perfect 10.