In her seventh outing for Miami crime reporter Britt Montero, Edna Buchanan (herself an erstwhile journalist for The Miami Herald) serves up a nice twist on a standard plot. The body of a beautiful naked woman floats in on the tide practically at Britt's feet, and it turns out to be that of a woman supposedly murdered a decade before by her wealthy husband. Most of the action focuses on freeing R.J. Jordan, the convicted killer, from his cell on death row. R.J., a handsome but decidedly unpleasant guy who maintained his innocence all along, isn't the slightest bit interested in apprehending his wife's killer. He's just happy her body turned up before he died for her murder. But Britt wants to know where Lily Jordan's been for the last 10 years, and why she came back to Miami just days before her husband was due to die.
To Britt's surprise, her own mother has an important clue, although it's all Britt can do to pry it out of her. Not only did the elegant, socially well- connected Montero matriarch know the victim, she even mentored Lily as she rose through the executive ranks of the Jordan family business. The new explications of the complicated relationship between Britt and her mother is a plus for fans of this bestselling series, who appreciate Buchanan's deft characterizations as well as her love for the city she has called home all her (and Britt's) life. As an extra fillip, there's Britt's growing relationship with the investigator who helped put R.J. away 10 years ago, a nice counterpoint to this ingenious updating of Double Indemnity. Buchanan's pacing is dead-on, as she stays one step ahead of even the most discerning reader right up to the explosive conclusion. --Jane Adams