The third time isn’t the charm for Detectives Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus of the Mobile Police Department.
How often does it happen that two black-and-whites race to a homicide scene because each pair of cops wants the case? More often, certainly, than that both pairs of detectives offer to back down once they’ve seen the victim. What’s been done to novice TV journalist Taneesha Franklin, an acolyte of Ryder’s girlfriend Danielle Danbury, is so ugly that the chills give the partners an extra motive to nail the killer. But their best lead, a prison inmate named Leland Harwood whom Taneesha had visited recently, stops stonewalling Ryder just long enough to collapse from a fatal dose of poison. The murder of one Mistress Sonia, née Carole Ann Hibney, will make it obvious to most readers that the storm of violence has its roots in the monstrous Kincannon family, a nest of wealthy parvenus determined to crash the social register at any cost, as long as they get a quo for every quid. And after a while it’s even obvious to Ryder and Nautilus. Meanwhile, though, even the dimmest armchair sleuths may well wax impatient as they wait for scorching revelations that never arrive.
After a pair of macabre cases that vaulted them into the front rank (The Hundredth Man, 2004; The Death Collectors, 2005), it’s comforting to know that even Ryder and Nautilus have their off days.