Seranella takes an upscale break from mechanic-turned-detective Munch Mancini (An Unacceptable Death, 2005, etc.) with this tale of an obsessive-compulsive who specializes in crisis management.
When attorney Dominic Cole asks Charlotte Lyon to help SunRail manage the fallout from the derailment of their new Sunliner, designed to ferry eager gamblers to Southern California’s Native American–owned casinos, she jumps right into the assignment. Anything that provides her a break from mulling the death of her husband, Brad, can’t be bad, and she’s been driving herself crazy trying to write an emergency-preparedness manual for Mercy Hospital. (Can you imagine how many potential biohazards there are in a hospital?) Although the media storm over the accident, which killed movie icon Rachel Priest, is intense, the staff at SunRail—from the CEO to his eager assistant Andrew, customer-relations rep Mary Nightengale and train master Stanley Mack—couldn’t be more obliging. And attractive National Transportation Safety Board investigator Todd Hannigan offers intriguing possibilities. But trying to find out what caused veteran engineer Bob Peterson to throw on his brakes in open countryside just out of Beaumont is slow-going at best—and at worst, may be even more lethal than a salad made with unwashed lettuce.
As the going gets tough, Charlotte gets less and less quirky—making her initial appeal fade faster than an express train at rush hour.