Michael ‘Mick’ Finn has been obsessed with the Dream Garden, an enormous, intricate colored glass mosaic, since being introduced to the artwork as a child by his grandmother.
Finn, a wealthy TV writer and producer turned eccentric recluse, has used the Dream Garden, hidden in the lobby of an old Philadelphia office building, as muse and inspiration, as shelter from life’s storms and as a serene setting in which to think. Mick Finn has a lot of thinking to do suddenly.
18-year old Billy Kivlin, son of Mick’s best friend, has been charged with involvement in an armed robbery and multiple homicides. He faces the death penalty. Billy’s father wants Finn, once a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, to help prove his son’s innocence, a task that appears virtually impossible as the evidence and witnesses mount. The case against Billy seems airtight…until Finn discovers some disturbing anomalies about the armed robbery at the heart of that case, and about the man prosecuting it.
Finn and District Attorney George Froehlich have a long and bitter history: as a college student Froehlich was responsible for the death of Finn’s father in a DUI hit and run, a case in which he avoided prosecution. Finn and the Kivlin family believe that Froehlich is using Billy’s high-profile trial as a springboard to the governor’s office, something that the prosecutor vehemently denies.
While the agoraphobic Finn rarely leaves his penthouse apartment he now has little choice in the matter–it’s the late spring of 1992. The World Wide Web is less than one year old. The Internet and 24-hour cable news are in their infancy. Google doesn’t exist. There are no smart phones or social media. He’s going to have to hit the streets and conduct his unusual investigation the old-fashioned way. He’ll also need help.
Finn tries to persuade his ex-lover, flamboyant, troubled Los Angeles-based celebrity defense attorney Amanda K. Smith, to return to Philadelphia to help Billy. Amanda, whom Finn first met at the Dream Garden, is very reluctant to do so. She has issues of her own, issues that she fears would be exacerbated by a return to her native Philadelphia, to the ghosts of the past. Ernie Morales and ‘Duke’ Earle, a pair of mismatched homicide detectives with conflicting loyalties working the Kivlin case might help, or might not, depending upon which way the wind blows. Definitely not helping and possibly conspiring—inadvertently or not–with the DA to frame Billy: the Kronks—Edith Ann and Calvin—machinegun-toting white supremacist siblings on a mission of vengeance and destruction.
Michael Finn follows a twisting trail of grudges, secrets, lies, old loves and surprising revelations, through a swamp of drugs, blackmail and murder into a surreal landscape where nothing and no one are quite what they seem. At the end of that trail, he must make some very difficult decisions—about friendship, forgiveness and redemption— in order to prevent the Dream Garden from turning into a garden of bloodstained nightmares for all concerned…