The Shamus-winning author of the Boston-based John Cuddy PI series pulls off a major genre shift in an electrically charged legal thriller that should expand his fan base considerably. The emphasis here is on ""thriller"" rather than ""legal"": the courtroom scenes are mercifully short on legalese and high on drama as ex-law professor Healy packs this twisty speed read with enough suspense, romance and hinky characters to keep the most jaded fan turning pages. Sheilah Quinn wins bail for her wealthy serial-killer client, Arthur Ketterson IV, due partly to her unintended effect on smitten, alcoholic judge Roger Hesterfield. The judge's ill-concealed admiration puts him in the path of Arthur, who's also taken a (much scarier) shine to his attorney. Meanwhile, Sheilah's carrying on a secret affair with African American homicide cop Frank Sikes--the guy who brought Ketterson to justice. Between assignations with Sheilah, Frank digs harder at the case to force the politically distracted DA to get Arthur back behind bars. Healy (Invasion of Privacy) reveals Arthur's guilt early and takes the reader down a wickedly winding road as the killer offs the people in Sheilah's life in an effort to reserve her for himself. The tricky, unpredictable ending of this character-driven thriller will have crowds lining up for the promised sequel. (July) FYI: Healy is v-p of the International Crime Writers Association.