The offbeat sleuth in this novel is Ellis Portal, once an esteemed judge, who was himself convicted of a felony and disgraced. He now lives as a vagrant in the river valley that is a wilderness preserve running through the heart of the city of Toronto. One day, while working on his hidden vegetable garden, he unearths a severed human hand. On that hand is a ring that Ellis recognizes. Thirty years before, on the day he became a lawyer, he and four of his companions entered into a pact that was sealed by just such a ring. All of the participants were white. The hand is black.

"Free Reign" is a marvelous roller coaster swinging through society's highs and lows with suspense building all the way." Robert J. Sawyer

"I knew at once that the ring was a strange, ominous seed and that, like most things planted in good earth at a good time, it was bound to bloom into something larger than itself.

"I had seen the ring before. I recognized the elaborate scrollwork that represented the scales of justice on one side and the blindfold of the goddess of justice on the other. Justice is balanced. Justice is blind. What simple notions! What innocence it takes to believe such things!"