Poppy Rice is home in her D.C. apartment with very little furniture and a stack of boxes she still hasn't unpacked after five years. It's three a.m. and she's suffering from her usual insomnia, so she watches a tape of the CBS Evening News. Dan Rather is interviewing convicted ax-murderer Rona Leigh Glueck who in ten days will be the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War. Poppy pauses the tape on a close-up of Rona Leigh's delicate, child-like hands. So maybe it was a lightweight ax. Poppy digs out Rona Leigh's case file to find - along with the grisly crime-scene photos - a physician's testimony that glee, not muscle, gave her the strength to commit the crime. When her public defender asked the crime lab for help determining whether such a frail woman, only seventeen years old, could physically commit these murders, he was turned away for not filing the correct paperwork. With the reluctant support of her colleague and sometime lover, Joe Barnow, the impetuous and relentless Poppy reopens the investigation to find out if Rona Leigh deserves a certificate that will read: Death by Legal Homicide as Ordered by the State of Texas.
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