Someone yells fire in a crowded Monterey concert venue, setting off the latest cat-and-mouse game for kinesics expert Kathryn Dance and her elusive quarry.
Dance, the human lie detector, wouldn’t have been pulled into the case at all if her failure to pick up the cues that marked landscaper Joaquin Serrano, a potential witness against the fearsome gangbanger Guzman, as a killer himself hadn’t gotten her kicked off the Guzman Connection task force and exiled to the Civil Division, which doesn’t allow her to carry a weapon or make arrests. Once settled into the Civ-Div, however unhappily, she gets her teeth into the fatal fire at aging hippie Sam Cohen’s popular concert site. Or rather, the fatal nonfire, since reports of a blaze were greatly exaggerated in order to induce the crowd to crush each other, sometimes fatally, as they swarmed the fire exits, which had been strategically blocked. The noncalamity-turned-calamitous is only the first act for Antioch March, whose online nonprofit, Hand to Heart, conceals a dark secret. As Dance puts it: “He starts panics. And he’s real good at it.” As she sweats to anticipate the unknown terrorist’s next move, March naturally takes a personal interest in her interventions, becomes infatuated with her, and waxes more and more determined to show her his best stuff. Fans of Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme tales (The Skin Collector, 2014, etc.) will anticipate a long string of surprises, but this time Deaver takes the edge off his customary overgenerous élan, and most of his few lightning bolts land with a thud.
Dance’s fourth appearance (XO, 2012, etc.) shows her still-creaky skill set—she can’t tell when her 12-year-old is lying to her—in search of a plot that can effectively harness her putative gifts.