A freak accident provides a detective the chance to redeem his good name.
The speeding car of a thrill-seeking couple jumps a median in late-night Minneapolis and kills a man in another lane. His license identifies him as James Putnam. But Detective Alexander Rupert, who’s lately been transferred to the Forgery and Frauds Unit from the scandal-ridden Joint Drug Enforcement Task Force, finds out from an ambulance chaser that the dead man is actually someone else. Alexander eagerly takes on the case of identity theft as a chance to salvage a career that’s under federal investigation. When the dead man’s sexy live-in girlfriend, Ianna Markova, lets Alexander see his hard drive, the detective finds records of a tidy fortune and 10 annual deposits of $10,000 each. Alexander's big brother, Max, a homicide detective to whom he's close, pulls strings to get him sent to New York to track down Putnam’s real identity. With the help of a feisty detective who might be a good match for the widowed Max, Alexander discovers that in 2001, the imposter, Jericho Pope, was supposedly killed in a boating accident. Instead, he swam to shore, went into hiding, took his roommate Putnam's identity, and started blackmailing the men who tried to kill him. He put certain incriminating videos on a flash drive Alexander wants so he can break the case and offset his former partner’s testimony against him, his looming grand jury appearance, his wife’s coolness, and even Max’s growing doubts. Meantime, a hired gun without a human heart wants the drive too and is targeting everyone who gets in his way. As the bodies pile up, Alexander makes a desperate move that may be his only way out.
Eskens (The Life We Bury, 2014) has upped the pace and the stakes in his second novel but with less success. His instincts are best when he focuses on the floundering Alexander and the brother who acts as his conscience.