Daniel leaves New England (Murder at the Baseball Hall of Fame, 1996, etc.) to float back to 1967 San Francisco, where flower children like New York Ned and his old lady Christine flock to share the love, smoke some weed, and listen to groups like New Riders of the Apocalypse, whose members—classically-trained Eric Lindgard, lady-killer Vince Russo, Joe Williams, Toad Madden, and their lead singer, a fiery vamp known only as Circe—share a house in the heart of Haight-Ashbury. While the Riders seek a higher groove, four other Haight housemates—college sweethearts Amy Cole and Seth Green, loopy Jester O’Neill, and artist Tess Ferriera—promote social change in their underground weekly, The Rag. But dark forces conspire to subvert the peace-and-love agenda. SFPD ex-Homicide chief George Moon is eager to use the Summer of Love as an excuse to let his anti-subversive TAC squad bust some heads, and a serial killer is carving up hippies, leaving a flower with each mutilated corpse. Hounded by the straight press (never mind the radical Rag), Moon’s politically ambitious successor Frank Austin calls detective John Sparrow back from Vice, where he went as much to lick his wounds after his unsuccessful investigation of a string of North Beach murders as to recover from his wife’s death. But even Sparrow’s courage and intelligence may not be enough to catch a killer who leaves no clues at all.
Subtle and evocative, with a finely spun mystery whose solution doesn’t quite live up to its promise.