In her latest mystery-series entry, Starbuck (No Pity in Death, 2018, etc.) presents a slow-building tale of an escaped killer and a murdered priest.
Operating room nurse Annie Collins and assistant district attorney Angel Cisneros are about to be married when news comes that Ian Patterson, whom they’d been instrumental in putting away, has escaped from prison and is likely bent on revenge. Indeed, at the wedding reception, Ian shoots Angel, just missing his heart, and escapes. Thus begins almost 200 pages of taut suspense. The elusive Ian is always one step ahead of the cops as he taunts Annie with letters and surprise appearances and Angel and Annie are soon at their wits’ end. Meanwhile, the Rev. Andrew Bingham, the young priest who was supposed to marry the couple but was called away at the last minute, is later found murdered. Annie gets involved in that case, of course, as she has the soul of a detective. Although everyone seemed to like Father Andrew, her digging unearths some revelatory details about his past. Detail and pacing are Starbuck’s strong suits, and she effectively shows how Ian’s threats of violence affect Annie and Angel’s relationship; their tempers flare as their fatigue and despair grow, and at one point, Annie wants to simply give herself up to Ian to have it over and done with. Indeed, Annie initially involves herself in the investigation into Father Andrew’s murder as an attempt to relieve her unrelenting fear. A final twist in the latter case shows a subtle appreciation of human nature and how relationships can become toxic. Overall, Annie is a wonderful fictional creation, and one hopes that she and Angel become a classic husband-and-wife crime-solving team.
A thriller that offers a master class in suspense.