A San Francisco silver spoon heir trying to do good becomes entangled in a serial murder case in Hurwitz’s (The Survivor, 2012, etc.) latest thriller.
Daniel Brasher, last heir to a family fortune that can be traced back to the Union Pacific’s golden spike, left the private investment business to become a counselor for violent offenders. The only child of widowed Evelyn Brasher, a community mover and shaker more powerful and feared than appreciated and respected, Brasher strayed further by marrying Cristina, a Hispanic community organizer. Money, an Audi, a gentrified three-story in Pacific Heights mean the couple lives well while doing good, the only pothole on the road to happily-ever-after being Cristina’s cancer. Then Brasher discovers an anonymous murder threat in his work mailbox. The threat, however, is directed at another person. Soon, other murder threats, and bodies, accumulate. Every corpse is left with "knife slits leaking blood below either eye." The Tearmaker’s notes always demand that victims "admit what you’ve done." Hurwitz is brilliant with characterization. Evelyn and Cristina are spark-striking opposites. Leo Rizk, shadowy, silent hired bodyguard, has a dark history revealed in strobe flashes. Theresa Dooley, hard-charging young African-American inspector, leads the investigation. And Martin, A-Dre, Big Mac, Martin, Lil and Xochitl, the sextet that makes up Brasher’s counsel group of violent offenders, are broken and brave but worthy suspects all. Hurwitz’s writing is more lyrical than noir—one chapter delineates San Francisco perfectly—with occasional literary flashes—"watched the sunbeams' relentless creep along the floorboards, ushering in the threats of a new day)." Hurwitz is no slouch at plotting either, dragging Brasher from one murder scene to another, either consulting with Dooley or giving in to his own curiosity—or guilt. Every suspect seems legitimate, but then the narrative makes a hard U-turn and aims The Tearmaker at Brasher and his wife only to stumble beyond a satisfying conclusion and tack on the trite tying up of one minor narrative thread.
Another winner from a top-tier thriller writer.