In this latest installment of Birdy’s (The Girl in White Pajamas, 2013) mystery series, someone guns down an employee of R&B Investigations and tries to hack its computer system.
When private investigator Rose Jones hears that her hired hacker, Tommie, was shot outside her building in Boston, she calls her business partner, Bogie McGruder. They suspect the attack was personal and seek assistance from Rose’s uncle, “hacker king” Walter Beck. It seems that a cybercriminal with a secret agenda is targeting Bogie and Walter and also attempting to infiltrate R&B Investigations’ computer system. Meanwhile, back in Florida, two local cops are threatening to stir up trouble for Bogie’s 20-year-old daughter, Amanda, and her cop husband, Randy, by trying to goad them into a pornographic-movie scheme. The titular character is Bogie’s smart 4-year-old daughter, Isabella; her “pajamas” are a martial arts uniform—her garb of choice. Although she’s merely a secondary character, she steals every scene she’s in; for example, she watches Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies obsessively and easily spots suspicious cars before Bogie and Rose’s dad, Darryl, do. There’s really no main protagonist; various people feature prominently at different points, and the two main storylines are connected by their characters, not by their plots. Both stories are equally engaging, however: The Boston plot is full of suspense as the villains’ ultimate goal is gradually revealed, while the Florida story is a soap opera of porn, drugs and false accusations. Their differences are highlighted when, at one point, Bogie visits Amanda in Florida and lectures her on excessive spending before heading to Boston to face a would-be assassin. Some of the novel’s technological aspects, however, are a bit underexplained; for example, Rose doesn’t want cops checking on Tommie, but it’s unclear why she’s worried about his modems (or why he owns three of them).
Contrasting plotlines come together to form a worthy thriller.