In Mahoney’s debut thriller, an Army vet visiting the family of a friend and fellow soldier becomes entangled in a story of murder and deceit.
Adrian Cervantes’ sole purpose for going to Cullinan, Washington, is to deliver money to the parents of his late friend Ricky Quinones. He shows up during a memorial service for Ricky’s father, Eric, where he has a brief conversation with the widow, Marie, which upset her. This sparks a response from a couple of townspeople, which results in a scuffle that ends with Adrian’s arrest. Attorney Virginia Hue helps him get out on bail, but he provides her with few details about himself. He’s an Army Ranger whose entire squad, including Ricky, died in Iraq, and this experience is connected to the aforementioned money that Adrian feels Marie is “due”—although he’s initially mum about where it came from. He believes that Marie’s reluctance to accept the cash stems from her suspicions about Eric, who’d been responsible for a local mill’s missing pension funds. Accordingly, Adrian looks into Eric’s demise and decides that it wasn’t an accident—he was murdered. Meanwhile, a dangerous man named Frank Gaulder is willing to kill to keep the snooping veteran from drawing unwanted attention to Cullinan. Mahoney’s tale thrives on the mysteries that surround its characters, including those regarding the specifics of Adrian’s Iraq experience, the money, and Frank’s nefarious deeds. The story also showcases Adrian’s considerable skills, particularly his aptitude for stealth. For example, Mahoney meticulously describes the protagonist’s slow, patient work as he attempts to open a door that’s secured with a card reader. Although Frank and his few henchmen prove menacing, they’re largely one-dimensional; Virginia, however, is a dynamic, savvy character whose own investigation into Eric’s death expands upon the standard attorney-client relationship.
A fine mystery with a strapping, enigmatic hero who’s capable of carrying his own series.