A bourbon heartburn woke Jack Darwin at one in the morning. He lay in near dark listening to the fog horns moan across the bay, gripped by anxiety and forgetfulness. He tried to remember how many whiskey sours he’d drunk at Marge’s on Mason Street, counting forward through each drink as if he had willed himself an injection of truth serum. Then, for a moment, just as he rose and put two feet on the carpet, he felt like begging God for an explanation for these Sunday night expeditions to the Financial District, some clear delineation of the loneliness that froze itself inside a person.

With his marriage to the beautiful Karla in disarray and his law practice in a state of neglect, wealthy San Francisco attorney Jack Darwin is also plagued with mounting financial problems, the result of his wife’s heedless extravagance. Then Karla, seeking a profitable divorce, escalates his troubles when she falsely charges him with sexual brutality. Bewildered, Jack turns for help to a fellow lawyer, an aggressive and enigmatic criminal defense attorney named David Avila, who has recently befriended him.

It seems to Darwin that things can’t get worse, but he is proved wrong when is accused of a series of rape-murders that have occurred in the city. Racked by increasing doubts about the motives of his own defense counsel, Darwin decides it’s more than time to take charge of his own life.

Written with brilliant authenticity by a former criminal defense attorney, The Devil to Pay creates an atmosphere of page-turning tension as police, lawyers, and an innocent victim battle what seem to be insurmountable odds to prevail against a clever and diabolically unpredictable killer.

The suspense of this cleverly plotted thriller is derived from the old Hitchcockian device of letting the audience—but not the hero, in on the danger. A great thriller, one of the ten best of the year.

Booklist (starred review)

Dold’s lyrical and stylized prose is of a quality rarely encountered in any genre. The bloody end in misty San Francisco testifies to Dold’s skills as a perfect scene-setter and villain’s portraitist, evolutionary advantages that any writer of suspense would love to have.

Publisher’s Weekly