The stepson of a slain Secret Service agent sprints through a seven-day quest to solve a 17-year-old case.
Hurwitz (The Crime Writer, 2007, etc.) might have subtitled this one Trust No Clue. He comes up with scores of them, all canny—a series of numbers, a wad of gum, a bone fragment embedded in a cheekbone, etc. All satisfy the reader, but most throw protagonist Nick Horrigan off track. At 17, Horrigan, sneaking out for a moonlight tryst with a diner waitress, disarms the alarm system to the home where he lives with his stepfather, Frank Durant, a Secret Service agent. Passion spent, Horrigan returns to find his father shot and dying. Seventeen years later, the case unsolved, Horrigan awakes as Secret Service agents storm his condo. They rush him to the site of a nuclear power plant that’s been seized by a terrorist named Charlie, who demands to speak to Horrigan. The terrorist passes a key to Horrigan and warns Nick his life is at risk. Horrigan hands the man a phone provided by the service. The mobile explodes, blowing the man’s head to bits. Horrigan subsequently learns that his stepfather knew the victim. Searching the man’s home, Horrigan uncovers a knapsack stashed with $180,000 cash. To find the link between Charlie and his stepfather and to learn who killed his father, Horrigan enters a labyrinth where sharply drawn characters deal swift reversals. Nimble and persistent, Horrigan suspects the case ties to two men running for president—photos Nick comes across suggest the sitting president, a staunch family-values advocate, may have fathered a child out of wedlock. A confrontation with the chief executive at a national debate goes over the top, but Hurwitz recovers with one final surprising twist followed by a touching coda.
In a briskly paced case that blends action with insight, Hurwitz puts the clues on the table, then plays the shell game with the reader and wins.