An economic collapse drives a hedge fund manager to murderous desperation while a police detective races to break the case before the body count rises in this intricately plotted mystery thriller.
When the titular envelope containing a sheet of paper with a bloody handprint and the word “JOSH” scribbled on it arrives in the mail, veteran psychologist Tonya Proctor and her husband Josh, a biomedical engineer, panic. Enter tough, seasoned Memphis police lieutenant Julia Todd, who, together with precinct secretary Teresa Johnson, swiftly pieces together the case. The investigation soon reveals that other medical scientists have received the same chartreuse calling card—before perishing in suspicious “accidents.” Todd’s investigation of a missing scientist pits her against Frederick Durnst, the CEO of BP Tech, who is less than forthcoming with company information. Todd sifts through a variety of leads as more local scientists go missing, Josh receives anonymous warnings and envelopes continue popping up around town. Fingerprints on Josh’s mysterious envelope match those of Carl Huong, a senior scientist at a company developing advanced (and controversial) joint replacement equipment, but Huong ends up murdered. Did he have compromising knowledge or was he just in the killer’s way? Complementing the narrative is a subplot involving Charleze Washington, a former foster child turned obsessive, aggressive financial hedge fund manager who finds herself knee-deep in an insider trading scam. The conventional sleuthing is engaging (though Paavola’s steady introduction of new characters becomes a bit distracting), with dangerous, illegal stock activity; cryptic e-mails; troublemakers; hit men and Josh, whose life remains in danger as everyone around him tries to piece together the clues. Paavola, a practicing Tennessee psychologist, keeps the action coming and his characters consistently interesting, though the conclusion isn’t nearly as satisfying as the search for clues.
A crafty, lightweight mystery anchored by a fearless female sleuth and lively supporting characters.