Thirteen years ago J. Shepard’s mother rose before dawn, packed a bag and walked out of his life forever. Since then, the rolling surf has been his only escape, a refuge from the daily stress of his job defending parents in the overburdened L.A. juvenile dependency court, and from the dark, unanswered questions of his past. When J. is assigned a high profile case, one in which a mother is accused of selling her child to the highest bidder, even a day in the surf won’t let him escape. J. can’t hide from the media attention that the case draws, and nor can he hide from the painful memories of his own desertion that the case congers. He realizes that if he does not confront the mystery of his own past he will always be stuck in equilibrium, unable to move against his emotional and physical tide. He will be stuck in the darkest spot in the ocean, the reef dance.
J. simultaneously throws himself into the case and search for the reasons behind his own mother’s disappearance. In order to succeed in both areas, however, he must rely on an old friend, Jackie Pace, a wayward surfing legend with a sordid past, that no one believes is reliable. But J. needs his friends help, and Jackie must rise to the challenge not just because he is J.’s friend but because he is much more intimately linked to the mystery than J. could ever know.