Absorbing suspense novel about a young homicide cop to whom everyone speaks in colors.
Robbie Brownlaw is a synesthete. When people talk to him, he sees their voices as colored shapes: blue ovals for sincerity, yellow rhomboids for love, red squares for deception. He wasn’t always this way; it happened after he was shoved out of a hotel window, falling six floors but somehow not to his death. Now he has an unerring, built-in lie detector, though it prompts a certain uneasiness that’s led him to keep his gift a secret. When the dead body of high-profile cop Garrett Asplundh is discovered, however, Robbie knows he can use all the special help available. Asplundh was lead investigator for the San Diego Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit, which means it was his job to keep a watchful eye over city leadership—which means, of course, that he had ample opportunity to worry the daylights out of powerful people who, when questioned by Robbie, unleash barrages of tell-tale red squares. Then there’s Stella, Asplundh’s beautiful, much-adored widow, whose “black and shiny eyes” could—and did—make men behave unethically. This kind of complex, difficult case would ordinarily elicit from Robbie the single-minded attention that’s made him the fast-tracker he is. At present, however, he’s distracted by trouble at home. He loves his wife as much as Asplundh did Stella, but these days when he’s listening to her and, more to the point, watching her as she speaks, he does not see yellow rhomboids.
Deftly plotted, gracefully written and, as usual with this savvy veteran (California Girl, 2004, etc.), it’s the lead character you pay your money for. Robbie is another in Parker’s growing gallery of wonderfully sympathetic heroes.