Stung by discovering his fiancee’s infidelity, an upstate real estate inspector walks out on her and into a relationship with a local law student—a relationship that turns even more intense with the student’s murder.
As he tells Detective Frank Moretti, David Malone knew Jana Fletcher for 10 days before her death. And as Moretti tells him, they’d been lovers for 10 days as well, and there’s no suspect more obvious when David finds Jana strangled to death. Except for discovering her body, he insists he had nothing to do with her murder; more likely she was killed by whoever dropped the Popsicle stick in the woods nearby. Thanks to a series of cutaways to the perp’s viewpoint, the reader doesn’t have to take David’s word for it. The killer, identified only as K, is indeed the man who’s been watching Jana from the woods, warming up for her murder by snuffing Jolene Halliwell, a hooker who attached herself to him a little too insistently. In fact, as Moretti’s compulsive investigation gradually reveals, Jana’s death is only the latest in a string of violence that extends back two years—a saga that melds seduction, prostitution, drug dealing and kidnapping into an unholy mess swirling around unlovely high school teacher Gary Dean Pruett, whom Jana was determined to free from prison since she was convinced that he hadn’t killed his wife, Cathy, even though he’d clearly been cheating on her with his (barely) former student Angela Reese. Nor has Jana’s death brought this murderous string to an end.
As in his first two thrillers (Very Bad Men, 2011, etc.), Dolan plays out the complications with a spider’s patience. This time, however, an unmemorable culprit makes his infernal logic seem just a tad less inevitable, scary and remorseless.