A rugged ex-cop faces his greatest challenge ever as a tortured inmate.
College student Julie Lippman decides to take action when her boyfriend Bobby dies in a Nevada plane crash during semester break. The trouble is, Bobby wasn't supposed to be on that plane but rather building houses for the poor. Julie enlists a few friends to help dig up Bobby's grave, but some mysterious figures kill them all. Seventeen years later, one-time top cop Charlie Hardie is haunted by the death of his partner Nate. Hardie's been hired to protect troubled Hollywood actress Lane Madden, targeted by Mann, an infamous hit woman. Wounded in a shootout, he's whisked away by EMTs. Over the next several weeks, Hardie, drifting in and out of consciousness, loses strength and the use of one leg. When he wakes up fully, he's a prisoner, at first overseen by Mann and then thrown into a bizarre prison, where he's told he's the new warden. The prisoners are shackled, and the guards are violent and terrified of a disembodied voice called the Prisonmaster, who sees all. Meanwhile, in the outside world, Hardie's FBI pal Deke Clark begins to look for him but stops abruptly when a Big Brother–like figure contacts him with a video monitoring every move of him and his family. It looks as if Hardie must escape on his own.
Readers of this middle installment in Swierczynski's Charlie Hardie trilogy (Fun & Games, 2011) who suspend disbelief will be rewarded with nail-biting suspense, ample twists and a crackling narrative style.