A Las Vegas private eye tangles with a jezebel as resourceful as she is murderous in this scorchingly one-dimensional series kickoff.
Worried that her brother, Dan, has run off with the nest egg needed to keep their Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, Lynette, ensconced in the Silver Hills nursing home, Cynthia Hodge directs Jim Bean, of Sin City Investigations: “Don’t contact him. Just find him.” The catch is that Jim’s client isn’t really Cindy Hodge; she’s Sophie Ryan Evers, a femme fatale whose crush on Dan, nurtured ever since her preteen years, is coupled with a decidedly sociopathic personality that’s already led her to kill 11 people—12 if you count Cindy. In the most pleasingly original part of this tale, its rapid-fire first movement, Jim works every lead he can think of to find Dan Hodge, who seems to have vanished seven years ago after dropping out of college to become a rodeo rider, while his client follows him, second-guesses him, seduces him, and generally plots rings around him. Once Jim catches up with Dan, who quickly disillusions him about the true identity of his client, the story settles into an altogether more familiar groove: Jim teams up with fellow private eye Oscar Olsen and FBI agent Ava Webb to move the surviving Hodges into a safe house Sophie promptly identifies, then both sides hunker down for an extended cat-and-mouse game whose only certainty is foretold in the novel’s title, which announces the final body count.
Allen can’t write a memorable sentence to save her life, but her plotting and pacing will keep you up long after Proust and Henry James have rocked you to sleep. Stay tuned for a series that promises many, many more troubled dreams.