The Zen Man: Semifinalist Best Indie Books of 2012

The Zen Man

Nick and Nora in the 21st Century

by Colleen Collins

Just as washed-up criminal defense attorney, life-long Deadhead (nickname “The Zen Man”), and current PI Rick Levine decides to get relicensed as a lawyer, he’s charged with killing one, who also happens to be his ex-wife, Deborah, and ends up in the slammer with a half-mil bail.

Rick recently moved in with his girlfriend Laura Fitzhugh, who’s invested her entire savings into renovating the Dinosaur Foot B&B and Hot Springs, named after the historical dinosaur footprints in Morrison, Colorado. For their grand opening, she and Rick had hosted the Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyers’ (“CrimDefs” to insiders) retreat, which ended abruptly after Deborah’s body was found stabbed through the heart in a hot springs pool.

Using the B&B as collateral, Laura makes bail.  Unfortunately, the D.A. has filed a motion demanding Rick be incarcerated until trial.  This motion will be heard in court in 30 days—-which means Rick has a month to find the real killer.

Although Rick’s immediate priority is to save his own skin, his overriding goal is to salvage his reputation in the legal community (before he got clean and sober five years ago, he was the Hunter S. Thompson of the Colorado Bar).

Laura’s priority is to salvage the lodge.  After a childhood spent in numerous towns while her dad moved from job to job, having roots is paramount to her.

In the course of their investigations, Rick and Laura dig for dirt among Denver’s shady legal backrooms to going undercover in the city’s tony corporate centers.  Despite their lives being endangered, Rick being jailed on trumped-up drug charges, and the FBI’s unwanted intervention, they continue tracking key suspects who have motive…until a final, deadly encounter with the surprise killer.