In Fitzgerald’s debut thriller, a retired schoolteacher takes it upon herself to find a neighbor’s missing granddaughter, whom federal authorities believe is dead.
In 2009, Denver native Dr. Inez Buchanan, a former middle school teacher, doesn’t know Dolly David, who shows up at her door, saying that she needs Inez’s help in finding her granddaughter. (After all, Inez once played a part in thwarting a Chinese espionage plot.) Dolly says that her granddaughter, Kadija Campbell, disappeared 14 years ago in Fort Collins, Colorado, and would now be in her mid-30s. She now has reason to believe that Kadija is in Afghanistan with a Taliban husband, but U.S. government agencies have disregarded her pleas for help. Later, Inez gets news that Dolly has allegedly committed suicide; surprisingly, she’d named Inez as the primary executor of her billion-dollar estate. Now, Inez is determined to track down Kadija’s whereabouts, starting with evidence that she’d been working as a spy. With assistance from FBI pal Trace Mitchell and her best friend, Sophie, she sifts through Kadija’s complex history, uncovering deceit, corruption, and murder. Concurrent flashbacks to the mid-1990s, meanwhile, follow CIA assets in an Iraq operation that goes awry. Fitzgerald’s story maintains suspense with a bevy of plot twists, including an apparent break-in at Inez’s house. Dangerous, armed assailants crop up in both plotlines. The author addresses racism as a prominent, ongoing theme; there’s the implication, for example, that an American agency considers people of color, like the African-American Inez, to be expendable. But the richest element of this novel is Inez herself, who’s memorable for her faults as well as her achievements; her conjectures aren’t always accurate and she owns up to her mistakes, which makes her not only a credible character, but a commendable one, as well.
A twisty mystery featuring a bright, if fallible, investigator.