Edgar-winning Klavan (The Uncanny, 1998, etc.) offers a stylish new thriller that turns on a jazz variation of the Orpheus and Eurydice legend.
In a fabulous, Lockerbie-like opening, a 747 jet blows up at 30,000 feet, raining fire from its freshly filled gas tanks on a tourist town below, where houses explode and burning people run everywhere. A lone surviving passenger (vice president of Helix Pharmaceuticals) walks out of the woods without a scratch on him, carrying a little girl named Amanda. Klavan then shifts into the Greek legend. Orpheus is depressed black tenor sax player Lonnie Blake, whose wife was murdered two years earlier. When a prostitute named Carol begs him to take her into his apartment and save her from a gravel-faced figure in the night, Lonnie seems to recover his dead wife Suzanne. But Carol leaves, and Lonnie starts a long chase after her, only to discover she’s also being pursued by super-smooth, ice-cold killer Winter (or shall we say Pluto?). Winter has a vast lech for Carol, but what he really wants is her five-year-old daughter Amanda, who can heal terminal cancer victims and raise the dead. She and her mother complete the character of Eurydice (or spring-bearing Persephone). Winter is North American bureau chief of Executive Decisions, a private force that hires itself to companies and countries for bloody covert actions. E.D. has been retained by billion-dollar Helix Pharmaceuticals to recover the offspring of Carol’s dead husband, a healer the drug company used for experiments in the genetically enhanced laying-on of hands. A story that opens with dynamite should close with TNT, and Klavan’s sixth outing does indeed end strikingly on a reversal of the legend.
Without the humor that lightened True Crime (1995), but, still, certain to please readers who like their entertainment with literary flourishes. And, yes, there is a cave of Tartarean darkness. ($300,000 ad/promo)