Long before Smiley's arrest, Cinda Hayes had become disillusioned with working as chief sex-crimes prosecutor for the Boulder County District Attorney's Office -- a job muddled by too many calculating egos, too much machismo and not enough decency. When the opportunity arises for her to become director of the Boulder County Rape Crisis Center, she doesn't think twice -- she jumps at the chance to leave the practice of law behind.
But six months after Jason Smiley is convicted and sentenced to death, Cinda is abruptly summoned by her old mentor, Justice Hilton James of the Colorado Supreme Court, and told that the state has chosen her to handle Smiley's appeal. The appointment creates obvious conflicts for Cinda -- her new profession is built on defending rape victims -- but Justice James assures her that she will not be expected to argue her client's innocence. She is instructed, instead, to scrutinize the trial record for errors that may have comprised Smiley's right to procedural justice.
Immediately Cinda feels an invisible noose begin to tighten. Her rape crisis colleagues start avoiding her, and most disturbing, her closest friend, Assistant District Attorney Tory Meadows, suddenly vanishes from her life. Cinda's strenuous efforts to avoid being drawn deeper into Smiley's case are failing, as Smiley insists that the only error at his trial was the conviction of an innocent man. At a memorial service for a fallen Boulder mountain climber, Cinda begins to sense the truth, which may include a deep cover-up involving Tory and the D.A.'s office. Armed with what she has learned, Cinda must decide whether to defy the court's instructions and demand to have a high-profile death-row case reopened.
In Render Up the Body, Marianne Wesson makes a thrilling and passionate debut. From absorbing descriptions of behind-the-scenes legal procedure to a shocking climax that will surprise even the most seasoned reader, this is an extraordinary novel of suspense.