A novel that opens up the seamy side—is there another?—of untraceable online threats; of pay-for-sex escort services; and of murder in posh penthouses.
Burke (Angel’s Tip, 2008, etc.) reintroduces Ellie Hatcher, a tough and beautiful cop, to investigate the murder of Robert Mancini, whose bullet-riddled body has been found in a penthouse at 212 Lafayette in New York City. It turns out the apartment is owned by millionaire (billionaire?) real-estate tycoon Sam Sparks, whom characters often refer to as the Sam Sparks? (As in the Donald Trump?). When he arrives shortly after the murder, he seems more upset that Hatcher is making footprints on his designer carpet than that his employee Mancini has been murdered in his bed. Evidence abounds that a personal “escort” had been with Mancini, so she immediately becomes a suspect. Hatcher quickly gets into big trouble (and even cools her heels in the slammer for 24 hours) for suspecting that Sparks himself could be responsible for this murder, but another possibility exists—that the missing escort had been an unwilling witness and that she’s on the lam because she fears for her life. Meanwhile, NYU student Megan Gunther has been receiving threatening messages on a smarmy website, Campus Juice (“All the Juice. Always Anonymous”). When her parents go to the police precinct to get some action on these threats, they’re told that the perp can’t be traced and that anyway there’s nothing illegal about sending creepy messages. This story doesn’t go down well with the Gunthers, even more so when less than 24 hours later Megan is murdered in her apartment—though the intended victim just might have been Megan’s roommate, who we discover works for an escort service and is using an alias. Bodies continue to pile up in various distressing guises, including one that’s been tortured, but Hatcher, along with her street-smart partner J.J. Rogan, is just the one to track down the nasties.
Burke’s plot is more convoluted than necessary, and her prose more serviceable than memorable.