A Tucson police detective catches a murder case that is anything but ordinary.
Sarah Burke is called to a crime scene after a neighbor reports a violent fight. The victim, a 60-ish male living in a simple home in an ordinary neighborhood, wasn’t robbed, and the fact that his face was beaten to a pulp indicates rage rather than greed as a motive. The neighbor tells the police that the fatal fight broke out as a noisy parade was going by with the distinctly odd figure of a limping clown bringing up the rear. The discovery of a bloody clown suit in the trash suggests that there was nothing casual or sudden about this murder. The dead man is identified as Calvin Springer, but no Social Security or Medicare cards are found in the house. What the team does find is an expensive gun and a large amount of cash. The autopsy shows that Springer was shot in the head by a .22 caliber gun, though not by the one found in his house, before he was beaten. A visit from Don Belgrave, of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reveals that Springer was almost certainly laundering money for a drug cartel in a touchingly old-fashioned way, using an adding machine and paper records. Although ICE is following the money trail to the cartel, Sarah thinks the very unprofessional murder looks more personal. Finding out who Springer really is will be the key to the crime, but he’s hidden his past so well that it will be no easy job even for Sarah’s dogged, experienced team.
Gunn (Noontime Follies, 2015, etc.) has produced an expert police procedural with plenty of quirks and twists that raise it well above the average.