The search for a vanished teenager leads a reluctant shamus back to the powerful man who hired him.
Elderly real estate tycoon Carl Valenti makes junior HR executive Chuck Restic (The Silent Second, 2017) an offer he can’t refuse: $100,000 to find his missing granddaughter, Jeanette. Not till after Chuck agrees does Valenti confess that he received a ransom demand that he’s already paid and that part of the deal includes the uninterrupted presence of Hector, his faithful chauffeur. In for a penny, in for a pound, figures Chuck. His investigation proceeds modestly as he gathers information via methodical interviews, beginning with the girl’s parents, who are separated from each other. Valenti’s daughter, Meredith, is evasive about the possibility of a genuine disappearance but mentions dismissively her daughter’s Mexican boyfriend, “Nelson something.” Jeanette’s father, Jeff, is much franker about the dysfunction in their family and the intrusions of his powerful father-in-law in their lives. Valenti’s ex-wife, Sheila Lansing, paints an even darker picture and reveals that she’s afraid of Valenti. Restic has reason to be wary of both Valenti and of Nelson Portillo, who tries to run him down in a parking lot. Through it all, Hector lurks in the background, presenting a constant, simmering threat of violence. All roads seem to lead back to Valenti, but Restic is reluctant to share what he has with the police until tragedy strikes.
Nuanced character portraits and slowly building suspense make this both an involving human story and a crackling crime yarn.