Something is killing killer whales. The federal government has declared the Southern Resident killer whale population in the Pacific Northwest endangered. Now it seems someone wants to add whale biologists to the list. Biologist Tony Small and colleague Lucky Smith were recording another dead whale when three rifle shots echoed across the water of Haro Strait. It wasn't Tony's lucky day. The police decide Tony's death was an accident. Lucky knows it was not. However, she does not know who shot Tony or why. Or whether she was the intended target.
The Smith Foundation, established by Lucky's parents contributes large sums of money to scientific research and environmental causes including getting the ESA designation for the orca. Lucky begins to realize someone wants that money and to control how it's being spent. Diverse groups who fear the endangered species designation will restrict development and agriculture have powerful connections. Money is channeled into a lawsuit opposing the ESA. As Lucky probes the parties on both sides of the suit, connections between disparate enemies lead to the knowledge that a supposed friend harbors such deep resentment and hatred they are willing to kill more than once to get what they covet. Either she finds a way to stop them, or she'll be as dead as the whales.
Nameless faceless evil is boring. And thinking the Endangered Species Act or designation will be the end of the world is sooooo yesterday. It was passed in 1973 for dog sake and even the lamest corporate lackey knows it didn't end the world.
Plus, why would someone kill killer whales to avoid having them designated endangered? You'd think they'd be offering up Viagra and CDs of Johnny Mathis at the Killer Whale Bar and Grill hoping for lust in the tide pool of life.
Focus on the crux of the story: control of the money. Are her parents dead? Does she have any say in how the money is spent? And does she want to spend it on whale viagra?