Practically all the leading characters in Capt. Josie Corsino’s fifth round of homicides are cops, but sadly, that doesn’t narrow the list of suspects much at all.
Soon after the last time Officer Marvin Wright was put on probation from the LAPD, he was reinstated with back pay. This time, Josie, who’s chairing the disciplinary board, throws the book at him—he’s rude, lazy, and incompetent—and Marvin still leaves the hearing grinning and vowing payback. Whatever Howard Burke, a civilian member of the board who, like Marvin, is gay, knows about a case that obviously troubles him vanishes when he’s murdered, leaving Josie with no one but her colleagues in the Hollywood division to catch what looks more and more like a serial killer. The latest target, the self-styled Prince of Darkness, ne Anthony Charles, is the brother of incoming police commissioner Ed Charles, who’s not pleased to hear that his long-estranged brother was strangled only a block away from an active undercover police operation. Matador, the lover Anthony told Ed about, has left a trail of other gay men dead in his wake, and the evidence suggest that the reason he doesn’t fear the police is that he’s one of them himself. Naturally, Josie (Set the Night on Fire, 2016, etc.) would prefer that Matador be one of her professional antagonists: Deputy Chief Dempsey, her spineless boss; Sgt. Timmy Scott, his officious adjutant; or Marvin Wright himself. With her luck, though, Matador might well turn out to be her protégé, Capt. Jorge Sanchez; homicide supervisor Red Behan, who’s closing in on retirement; Sgt. Dan McSweeney, her own adjutant; or Lt. Kyle Richards, a Wilshire watch commander who’s won her heart and given her a ring even though she accurately describes herself as “a bossy workaholic who hates housework.”
The case isn’t much of a mystery to anyone but the sorely tried heroine; her fans may wonder how, in the wake of the violence and corruption that surround her and reach into her own department, she could possibly have survived 30 years on the job.