A mugging gone bad, or murder most calculated?
Jonathan Traynor, 80, has been beaten so terribly in his own home that he never regains consciousness. He’s been beaten and robbed, and some cash, some jewelry and a small TV set duly appropriated. But Detective Sergeant Victoria Costanza of Washington Metro Homicide is suspicious, perhaps because of the victim’s enigmatically shrouded identity. In life, Traynor was one of those ghostly figures occasionally spotted prowling the corridors of power. Beltway insiders idly assumed he had something to do with intelligence. Traynor’s career, however, warranted serious interest. For 30 years, he’d spearheaded a special brand of clandestine operations for the CIA. His practice often involved political assassination, and when it did, the hit man was invariably Traynor’s trusted friend and protégé, talented killer Hack Staley. Now Traynor is dead and Costanza skeptical but clueless—until a phone call from a mysterious informant provides her with her first lead. In the meantime, Staley has managed to pinpoint just who hated Traynor enough to want him murdered and then to set about extracting an elaborate, custom-tailored vengeance worthy of Poe.
Though the working-out is complicated and occasionally repetitious, readers will probably want to know how Stinson’s debut turns out.