A hostage situation turned deadly is only the beginning of the latest wild criminal ride for San Antonio FBI agent Lucy Kincaid (Breaking Point, 2018) and her friends and relations.
Up until two months ago, neurologist Dr. Charles McMahon had an apparently unlimited future at Clarke-Harrison Research. But then something went wrong inside Charlie, who attacked a colleague, saw his wife walk out with the children, and got canned from his job. Brennan’s opening scene finds him waiting in Java Antonio for Dr. Paul Grey, the CHR biochemist who’s the only person he trusts anymore. When Paul fails to show up, Charlie snaps, produces a handgun, and takes everyone in the coffee shop hostage until he’s shot dead by a SWAT team that includes Lucy, who’s just completed her training as a hostage negotiator. What could have reduced Charlie to such desperate straits, and why didn’t Paul Grey come to the meeting? The second question is quickly answered: because he’s lying dead in Charlie’s home office. But the first question, whose answer turns out to be pretty complicated all on its own, swiftly gets tangled with the continuing battle Lucy’s bridegroom, Sean Rogan, is fighting with Madison Spade, his long-ago girlfriend in Sacramento, over custody of Jesse, the 13-year-old son whose very existence Madison’s kept from Sean for most of the boy’s life. Even though she’s allowed Jesse to spend six weeks this summer with his father, she doesn’t trust either Sean’s judgment or his good faith. And her second husband, Carson Spade, the mob lawyer who avoided prison only by turning state’s evidence, accepting disbarment, and taking his family into witness protection until the deaths of most of his old associates led the U.S. Marshals to judge that the threat against them had lifted, hates Sean with a passion and is more than willing to put teeth into his own threats.
Brennan’s two plots, which seem to require the services of every law enforcement officer west of the Mississippi, keep the pot boiling but feel less like a tightly braided rope than an endless tug of war.