A forensic FBI psychiatrist whose ordinary perceptions are supplemented by revelatory flashes of expressive color goes up against an unusually literate cabal of domestic terrorists.
Like her author, Dr. Jenna Ramey (Double Vision, 2015, etc.) has grapheme-color synesthesia that allows her to see more in everything she looks at than her colleagues in the Behavioral Analysis Unit can. When she’s called to a D.C. bank to examine the carnage, she’s overwhelmed by the profusion of colors, and no wonder. Masked intruders have stabbed or slashed or hacked 21 people to death and left without taking a cent. The scene may seem chaotic, but members of the Black Shadow group obviously planned the attack meticulously, from leaving a single survivor locked in a bank vault to absconding with all the security footage so they could send it to the media. Ashlee Haynie, the sole survivor, is in no mood to relive the trauma under Jenna’s questioning, but she does remember enough to help the BAU realize that members of the criminal crew have assumed the code names of fictional characters—Atticus, Scout, Scarlett, Mr. Darcy, and so on—and left copious hints about the meaning of what they’ve done and their plans for what they’ll do next embedded in extended allusions to the work of writers from Oscar Wilde to Ayn Rand. These improbably teasing clues are so mind-bogglingly intricate that many armchair detectives will be tempted to skim over the efforts of the BAU and schizotypal literary consultant Grey Hechinger to decode them and focus instead on the ongoing threat represented by Claudia Ramey, Jenna’s sociopathic mother, who blackmails her daughter’s one-legged lover, Yancy Vogul, into passing secret information on to her. But since that subplot’s payoff is deferred till the next installment, civic-minded readers had better concentrate instead on figuring out where Black Shadow will strike next.
Just the gift for connoisseurs of multiple murders who also want to plume themselves on their knowledge of literary classics.