Jackson Workman Work Pickens is a young North Carolina lawyer, by most accounts not the go-getter his father (and one-time law partner) was before he went missing some months back. So there is more than a little irony in Pickens' nickname. When John Hart's The King of Lies begins, Work is something of a joke in the legal circles of Rowan County. His social-climbing wife routinely rags on him for his modest aspirations; his emotionally fragile sister will barely speak to him. Work has only one safe harbor, a onetime girlfriend from the wrong side of the tracks, to whom he runs when things spin out of control. And things are about to do just that. The body of Work's missing father has turned up, and the evidence points to Work. There had been a good deal of animosity between the young lawyer and his tyrannical father, a fact not lost on Rowan County's dogged district attorney. Work has a pretty good alibi for the night his father disappeared: he was at home in bed with his wife. However, things have not been rosy on the home front for some time, and Work faces the distinct possibility that his wife, if she wanted to, could leave him twisting in the wind.

It is always a pleasure to review an outstanding debut mystery. The King of Lies goes a long way toward establishing Hart as the genre's Rookie of the Year.

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