What are the odds that two healthy, liberal females active in San Diego politics would die of natural causes within two weeks of each other? Close to zero, thinks social psychologist Blue McCarron, consultant to a third endangered politician, and when a quick statistical analysis backs up her suspicions, she communicates them to the city cops. The results are gratifyingly prompt: A San Diego detective turns up on her doorstep demanding that she answer a few questions downtown, and two more uppity females are lethally attacked. Working with her partner and lover, forensic psychologist Roxanne Bouchie, Blue attacks the questions of who would want to murder state senator Mary Harriet Grossinger, state assemblywoman Dixie Ross, and the others; how their killer was able to induce a fatal stroke in each victim; and what the string of deaths has to do with the Blue Willow plates somebody keeps driving out to the desert to leave outside the hotel Blue shares with Roxie. The setup is irresistible, and Blue can make statistics so fascinating that readers may not even notice when the tale begins a slow slide into conventionality, with a cosmetic surgery clinic conveniently narrowing the field of suspects and the identity of the murderous “Sword of Heaven” pretty obvious early on, despite a shoal of red herrings.
Lacking the blazing originality and comic energy of Blue’s blistering debut Blue (1997), this sequel still shows her as adept as ever at tracking family scars through the generations in search of “a serial cerebral hemorrhage killer.”