Private eye Jim Bean turns over every rock in Las Vegas looking for a young woman he really doesn’t care if he finds.
Why would a social worker take a part-time job as a stripper in the first place, and why would she disappear in the second? Boston attorney Erica Floyd wants answers about her vanished sister, Chris, and she wants Jim, her former boyfriend, to help her out. Even though she offers triple his usual rate, Jim’s unmoved. He can’t forget that eight years ago, when a drunk student at Ohio State accused him of rape, Erica turned her back on him, leaving him to beat the rap on his own, his plans for a career with the FBI in tatters. But changing circumstances and Erica’s persistence soon pull him into the search, which promptly leads him to Vegas’ stinkiest fleshpots. Although nobody wants to admit it, it’s pretty obvious that Chris Floyd was working at The Showgirl, a Coyote Springs club owned by Andrew Zant, and anyone who crosses a heavy hitter like Zant is likely to end up chained inside a shipping crate like the one Chris evidently had time to doodle in. The murder of Karen Barnes, Chris’ boss at Clark County Social Services, indicates that Chris’ life was more complicated than the split between social worker and stripper would suggest. Now if only Jim could keep his hands off his client long enough to get to the bottom of the case, which combines more or less interchangeable suspects with a motive as logical as it is original.
Allen tones down the Grand Guignol of her striking debut (19 Souls, 2017), reserving her horrors for the reeking underbelly of Las Vegas and leaving more room to hope that her hardworking hero will be able to strike a better balance in his tormented life.