The homicide at the Elm City Motor Lodge looks straightforward enough: A prostitute’s obviously gone berserk and stabbed her client to death. But the case heats up when the pseudonymous victim, wearing only a condom, is identified as retired Bible publisher Richard Deegan, the number-two man and designated successor to James Crawford, founder and CEO of the Sons of God, the religious right’s answer to licentiousness, homosexuality, and the dark races. And it reaches the boiling point when SOG vice-president Tony Sorrentino is found murdered in identical fashion, in what looks like the final blow to New Haven detective William Shute’s theory that the prostitute (Yale drama student Midori Strumski, if only he knew) killed Deegan in self-defense. Despite the city fathers’ determined attempts to wash the Sons white as snow before they move their headquarters to a vacant, high-priced office building in the ailing city’s Ninth Square, however, Shute can’t ignore the evidence that the Sons are more sinning than sinned against. Even after he loses his badge and gun, he won’t give up, tracking down likely prostitutes over the Web and delving into Deegan’s past a little too deeply to suit a fiery angel who delivers threats to him and violence to his hot new lover Gracie O’Toole—and to anybody else who gets too close.
Bechard (Good Neighbors, 1998, etc.) laces his frantic plot with satisfyingly obvious targets and suitably moody atmospherics, even though many of the key figures in his morality play remain too shadowy to spring to very convincing life.