A history professor is reunited with his long-lost mother shortly before her murder in Gerber’s (Grilling the Subject, 2016, etc.) mystery-thriller.
Weyford University professor and former U.S. Navy lieutenant Chase Day is understandably shocked when he receives a call from his mother, Sybil Day, whom he thought had died in a fire more than three decades earlier. But he recognizes her voice and, upon her request, drives to the trailer where they once lived. There, he finds Sybil on the floor, bloody and barely alive; Chase tussles with her apparent assailant, who gets away. Sybil manages to utter only a few last words before she dies, asking Chase to save Luther, the father he never knew. When police don’t believe Chase’s story of what happened, he becomes determined to find his dad and stop Sybil’s killer on his own. He starts at Keystone Hospital, where Sybil had once been a patient. Chase believes that Luther was likely a resident there as well, so he searches patient files to find men who’d recently left. Soon, he finds that strangers are following him, and it becomes clear that Luther stole an item decades ago that people desperately want. Gerber’s tale is so densely packed with mysteries that it’s easy to see why Chase is often paranoid. Untrustworthy characters are in abundance: it turns out that Chase’s grandmother Barbie, for example, has been lying to him for years. The frantic plot will keep readers on edge; at one point, Chase assumes the worst when a friend and fellow professor simply doesn’t answer his phone. Gerber does, however, imbue the narrative with humor on occasion, as when Chase equates a stoic nurse in a mental institution with the antagonist from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The final act is heavily explanatory but convincing, and it wisely doesn’t linger on the aforementioned, much-desired item for too long.
A savvy and energetic whodunit.