In Smith’s debut mystery, a former scientist investigates a string of mysterious deaths occurring across Atlanta.
The story begins with the unexplained demise of an Atlanta priest from complete organ failure after being taken to the hospital with delirium and pains in the soles of his feet. Dr. Damon Keane, a retired consulting scientist with an enormous family fortune, gets recruited to help the Atlanta Police Department solve this and other strange deaths rocking the city. Keane, Smith writes, is “unique in his business” as “he carried degrees in both medicine and physics.” The author introduces readers to a number of competing narratives, including the doctor’s separation from his ex-wife and the news that his son has recently joined a monastery. Because Keane is not an official investigator—he acts more as a consultant at the behest of Atlanta’s mayor—he faces a number of roadblocks while trying to piece together this medical mystery. As small clues give way to a larger, more sinister crime, Smith pulls readers in with a number of red herrings, including the discovery that the dead priest’s rosary beads changed color shortly before his demise. The problem, however, is that when the author introduces a likely suspect, the revelation appears far too late in the narrative. That said, readers may still enjoy the story’s fast-paced action, which spills out of Atlanta and into Russian Siberia, as the prime suspect seeks to further his alarming, deathly goals. The author does successfully connect these seemingly freakish deaths to a larger tale of international intrigue, but more seasoned crime readers may not entirely believe that one wealthy doctor would be able track down the renegade killer.
A promising thriller that ably handles its medical mysteries but lags in its narrative structure and character development.