Burke hits her stride in this third outing for Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid.
Is Portland suffering through a crime wave? Two weeks after Officer Geoffrey Hamilton puts seven bullets through Delores Tompkins’s windshield after she flees a late-night traffic stop, hotshot Oregonian reporter Percy Crenshaw is beaten to death in the parking lot of his own apartment complex. Samantha’s boyfriend, Det. Chuck Forbes, and his partner Mike Calabrese swiftly extract a confession from hopped-up Todd Corbett, who under Mike’s aggressive questioning gives up Trevor Hanks as the friend whose baseball bat was caught by security cameras. But the sudden illness of Samantha’s boss Russell Frist, which catapults her into taking Geoff Hamilton’s case before a grand jury, marks a turning point in her fortunes. First the slam-dunk Hamilton indictment slips away, then Corbett’s confession goes south. As Samantha and Chuck battle over who ought to trust whom, Crenshaw’s junior Oregonian colleague Heidi Hatmaker, hungry for respect, puzzles over the notes he left behind and, in awkwardly interspersed third-person chapters, discloses a pattern that’ll tie virtually all Samantha’s felonies together.
After a slow start: big, bustling canvas with plausible moral dilemmas for Samantha (Missing Justice, 2004, etc.) and surprises that are still popping on the final pages. Now that she’s mastered the high concept and the breadth, maybe next time Burke can deliver the pace and momentum that would raise her to the first rank.