In the second of White’s (A Killing in D.C., 2014) thriller series, D.C. homicide detectives investigate the brutal murder of a wealthy and philandering CEO.
Detective Marcus Rose’s Sunday date with wife, Gina, is cut short when he responds to a call. Someone’s found Nicholas Lockett in his high-rise penthouse, dead from multiple stab wounds. Lockett, whose net worth totals $250 million, was a ruthless entrepreneur and likely aggrieved any number of people on his way to the top. But Marcus and partner, Detective Logan Steele, believe the ferocity of the stabbing points to a crime of passion. Because Lockett was cheating on his wife, Yvette, with quite a few women, including personal assistant Nicole, it doesn’t really do much to shorten the suspect list. German businessman Diedrick Becker, for example, failed in his attempted hostile takeover of Lockett’s company, Lockett Electronics, but his undeniable hatred of his late rival may have had more to do with an affair involving the German’s wife. Other detectives, from Katelyn Alverez to relative newbie Frank Callahan, also work the case. Not all interviews go smoothly. Lockett’s driver, Stephan, prefers physical resistance to cooperation, and the squad can only hope to amass enough evidence to put a killer in handcuffs. Despite the novel’s short length, White adeptly adds nuance by differentiating the detectives. Detective Anthony Russo, for one, has a drinking problem, while Lt. O’Malley reprimands Detective Alverez for taking a bribe. Marcus and Logan, too, are contrasted: the former is a family man, and the latter a content bachelor. The layout is poorly designed, with dialogue exchanges often crammed into single paragraphs. This does, however, help interrogation scenes stand out. Lines, identified by the speaker, unfold in the style of a script and use minimal narrative to describe basic actions (i.e., a smile). Readers won’t have trouble picking out the murderer, but the characters make the investigation the best part. And it’s led by a protagonist who sublimely contradicts the tough-guy image, eliminating profanities from his vocabulary and obsessively using hand sanitizer.
A conventional mystery, but the investigators themselves prove more than enticing.