Clint Hunter, Crescent Blue
An unwelcome phone call from his new partner Paula Waters interrupts attorney Stan Turner's family vacation in Colorado. A long time client and friend, Dusty Thomas, stands accused of the murder of an IRS agent and continues to barricade himself in his barn while holding a contingent of federal law enforcement agents at bay. A witness who happened upon the scene identifies Thomas as the man he saw standing over the victim with a shotgun in his hand.
Leaving his family in Colorado, Turner hurriedly flies to the scene in Texas where he meets the agents and arranges a meeting with the accused. Thomas, known for his long and bitter feud with the IRS concerning seizures of his property, professes his innocence. He swears he found the already dead agent on his property after responding to the sound of gunshots; however, he agrees to give himself up with the assurance that Turner will defend him in court.
Without Turner's knowledge, Paula Waters arranges for a radical anti-government organization called the Citizen's Defense Alliance to post Thomas' bail and deposit money for the defense in the firm's account. Turner angrily speculates on the consequences of this alliance if the firm fails to prove its client innocent. Word of this action leaks immediately to the press, and federal agents begin surveillance of Turner's every move.
Before research for the trial begins, another distraction arises. Tex Weller, one of the firm's best clients, unexpectedly deposits more than a million dollars into the firm's account and then disappears. Investigation reveals documents suggesting a link between the money and a scam originating in Ecuador. While Waters prepares for the upcoming trial, Turner flies to Ecuador in search of his friend.
Left in charge of the trial preparation, Waters uncovers evidence that the murdered IRS Agent, Bobby Tuttle, sported a reputation as a bully who rose rapidly in the agency because of nepotism. Tuttle apparently maintained a "hit" list of persons and organizations to prosecute for tax evasions, and cultivated enemies both inside and outside the IRS. Waters finds herself hard-pressed to keep up with the ever-expanding list of potential suspects.
Pressure builds to piece together the puzzle of Agent Tuttle's murder as the trial date looms. In the meantime, Turner and Waters must work their way past an investigation of sedition, a gang related insurance swindle, and a charge and conviction of felonious action. But in a courtroom climax that would make the venerable Perry Mason stand and applaud, stunning revelations and unexpected connections bring the mystery to an unanticipated and startling conclusion.