The versatile Knopf (Tango Down, 2017, etc.) kicks off a new series starring a reluctant investigator who’s “like the Terminator with an advanced degree.”
Not many people recover from childhood autism, but Waters did, more or less. He’s so good at reading other poker players’ tells that he’s been banned from the casinos, and fellow player Paresh Rajput naturally hired him as an organizational psychologist for his firm, ExciteAble Technologies. But he still won’t tell anyone his first name, he looks everyone he meets unflinchingly in the eye, and he’s taken a married lover, Olivia Lefèvre, who doesn’t love him any more than he loves her. Waters’ orderly life ends when he comes home from the gym to find Paresh’s severed head sitting on the floor of his guest room (the rest of his body will soon turn up in Waters’ storage locker). Megan Rajput and Waters’ co-workers at ExciteAble all seem above suspicion, but that doesn’t matter anyway because DS Noah Shapiro, of the New Haven Police Department, is sure that Waters is his killer. As the evidence against him mounts, so does the danger. The real murderer alternately taunts and threatens Waters over the telephone, arranges for suspiciously large cash transfers from Paresh’s bank account to his own, plants firecrackers in the hotel room the crime-scene crew has obliged him to hole up in, sends a burly thug to beat him up, and finally resorts to settling their dispute the good old American way, by shooting at him. Through it all, Waters remains, if not exactly ebullient, then certainly dispassionate as he returns the threats, dodges the firecrackers and bullets, and, fortified by years of wrestling and bodybuilding, turns the tables on the thug en route to exposing a nefarious, if not exactly unexpected, scheme against ExciteAble Technologies.
Finally, a professional-grade detection-cum-actioner with a hero who actually has a logical reason for being so emotionally disengaged. More, please.