A blackmail plot produces complications upon complications in a story of sex trafficking, class wars, and stolen identities.
Someone is blackmailing Jo Greaver with obscene photos of her previous life as a teenage sex trafficking victim. When she arranges to meet up with the man demanding payment, a gunfight breaks out, leaving Jo wounded and the blackmailer, Andray Baxter, apparently dead. When she returns home to pack a bag before taking it on the lam, Jo can’t bear to tell her boyfriend, Cal, what’s happened, especially since she’s never told Cal about her early life, when she was raised by her drug-addicted sister, Lori, on the mean streets of New York. The presence of Cal’s imposing, upper-crust mother, Priscilla McGarran, who just happens to be resting on their couch when Jo enters, doesn’t make it easy for Jo to escape, but she thinks she’s in the clear once she’s left Manhattan behind. Wrong: Her body gives out on her shortly thereafter. The NYPD’s Sheryn Sterling has already had a long day picking up her 14-year-old son following his own arrest for protesting deportations while black when she and her partner, Rafael Mendoza, are put on the case. At first it looks like Baxter’s murder is cut and dried. After all, he has a note in his pocket that essentially reads “Blackmail Jo Greaver.” But clues at the scene and Jo’s own behavior when she’s arrested make Sheryn suspect that there’s more to the story. Davidson incorporates details about Sheryn and Rafael that connect their experiences of being seen and judged by others as a black woman cop and a gay cop who walks with a cane with their willingness to look more closely at Jo and Andray. What they find is enough blackmail, impersonation, and class warfare to seriously complicate what seemed like a straightforward case.
Readers won’t mind that Davidson keeps moving the goal posts during the finale because the buildup is such a satisfying page-turner.