In Hartnett’s debut thriller, an American cop and an Interpol agent scour Europe to verify a potential link between alleged suicides and stolen relics.
Angie Anderson’s seven-year marriage to husband and fellow Stanford professor Andy is full of romantic gestures, like Angie surprising him with his favorite meal. So she’s understandably shocked when police officers arrive at her door claiming Andy’s taken a dive off the Golden Gate Bridge—based on the suicide note left in his abandoned car. This is remarkably similar to what happened with Denver detective Caleb Mathews’ father 15 years earlier, only his dad’s newly dead body just showed up in Amsterdam. Caleb suspects someone’s kidnapped Andy to replace his father, both in the field of bioengineering. It’s a wild speculation, but Angie sees its validity, further surmising that the abduction and murder have something to do with pilfered relics, both over a decade ago and more recently in the Netherlands and Turkey. Caleb and Angie meet in Dublin with Angie’s former roommate, Siobhan Callahan, now with Interpol. They connect other scientists’ questionable suicides with pinched relics, all relating to saints and spanning various countries. The group amasses a plethora of clues, from missing women to chemicals used to render guards unconscious, to find Andy and his abductors. An early introduction to the villains leaves little mystery, but the baddies prove as riveting as the good guys. Caleb and Angie, for starters, get plenty of help, namely from Siobhan’s dad, Tippy, who’s no longer with Interpol but still excels in the field. Billionaire Gabriel Papadakis, meanwhile, who’s unmistakably spearheading the thefts and disappearances, has a rather chilling employee turnover. Subordinate Lucas Weber, on account of his larceny accompanied by excessive killing, may be up for termination, while probable replacement Viktoria busily recruits lackeys. Papadakis’ outlandish purpose, too, revealed before the halfway point, is a doozy. A few scenes with Caleb and Siobhan, involving her other, unrelated case or Caleb teaching her to ride a horse, are extraneous. These moments certainly foster the couple’s personal and professional relationship, but so does their plot-relevant trek from Austria to Moscow—with more subtlety and brevity.
Resonant characters deciphering a puzzle involving artifacts generate an absorbing tale even if readers already know where the pieces go.