A private eye’s dogged search for his wife’s killer uncovers a cascade of murder that reaches back 20 years.
In the two years since his wife, photographer Olivia Makinnen, was strangled on the shore of the Huron River, Jack Pellum has thought of nothing but the man he’s convinced killed her: a man wearing a fedora whom he’d spotted in the neighborhood a few days before she died. He’s left the Detroit PD to pursue the case, hung up posters with a sketch of the man, and badgered Carl Dumisani, his former partner, for leads about similar murders. Now there’s a lead so promising it’s eerie. Just this week, Daniel Cavanaugh, a writer who hanged himself after his own wife’s death, painted a message on his wall: “There’s a killer, and he wears a crooked hat.” Convinced beyond reason that the two men in hats are the same, Jack tears into Cavanaugh’s background with the ferocity of a starving mastiff. He discovers that Cavanaugh’s friend, odd-job man Paul Rook, saw the man in the hat nine years ago, two days before his mother, Bonnie Rook, was murdered, and that Cavanaugh’s brother, Alex, was killed a decade before that. Unable to convince either Dumisani or Belleville Police Chief Keely Tanager that these deaths are all connected, Jack plows on and discovers still more victims. Dolan reveals in the opening chapter that the man Jack is looking for is Michael Underhill, a blandly self-excusing type whose unassuming profile makes him both easy to overlook and deeply disturbing. But although no human power can distract Jack from his mission, the impending mano a mano is deferred by a number of ungainly complications that make Dolan’s extravagantly plotted earlier thrillers (The Last Dead Girl, 2014, etc.) look like models of coherence.
“You’re really something,” the incredulous police chief tells the hero. “You want everything tied together.” Well, yes. This investigation, at once remorselessly logical and remarkably diffuse, invites readers who want the same thing to take a closer look in the mirror.