A tedious tale of murder from Rice (Light Before Day, 2005, etc.).
On assignment in Iraq, Marine John Houck learns just before a mission that his brother Dean has committed suicide. Shaken up and distracted, he accidentally contributes to the wounding in a blast of his commanding officer, “Lightning” Mike Bowers (“probably the greatest Marine John had ever met”), resulting in the loss of the man’s eye. Nine months later John is out of the Marines. He wants to find Mike and make a peace offering. But when John arrives at Mike’s, he discovers his just-murdered body. He quickly tracks down and captures a suspect, Alex Martin, who’s lurking in the vicinity. Alex is not the murderer, however, but is instead Mike’s lover, a fact that takes straight-arrow John some time to process. Alex and John then team up to uncover the real murderer, who turns out to be Ray Duncan, the local sheriff supposedly investigating the crime. (This plot point is revealed early on, so nothing is spoiled.) Alex and John then go on the lam, hiding out with John’s estranged sister Patsy. Ray begins spreading the rumor that Alex and John conspired to murder Mike and that the murder was the result of a three-way lovers’ quarrel. Convinced that Alex’s life is under siege, John begins to train him in the art of self-defense, only to discover that Alex can take care of himself just fine. Narrative strain begins to show as more about Ray is revealed and John, who has been tormented by the thought that a sexual predator raped Dean, motivating his suicide, realizes that he has been mistaken all along.
There’s little suspense and surprisingly little excitement to be found here.