A country singer/songwriter who’s getting unwelcome attention from a devoted fan provides kinesic specialist Kathryn Dance, of the California Bureau of Investigation, with her third extra-twisty case.
Edwin Sharp really likes Kayleigh Towne. Since receiving the computer-generated email thanking him for his interest in her, he’s written back 50 times, effortlessly dodging the attempts of her protective staff to throw him off her scent. He knows everything about her and her entourage—her father and mentor, Bishop Towne; her assistant, Alicia Sessions; her producer, Barry Zeigler; and her chief roadie Bobby Prescott—so of course he’s on hand, all courtesy and insinuating smiles, when she returns to her hometown of Fresno for a concert. Kayleigh’s old friend Kathryn Dance (Roadside Crosses, 2009, etc.), who also happens to be on hand, can’t read Edwin’s body language: He’s either completely honest or completely delusional. But she can’t resist elbowing her way into the investigation bullheaded sheriff’s deputy P.K. Madigan launches when a heavy lighting fixture just happens to brain Bobby late one night. Kathryn soon sets Madigan straight about what happened to that errant light and how to conduct a proper interrogation. In the absence of any hard evidence against Edwin, however, the sheriff’s office has to let him go, and the violence escalates. Fans of Deaver’s celebrated sleuthing marathons will wait with bated breath as this onion is peeled to disclose multiple layers of deception, betrayal and triple crosses. This time, though, the surprises, driven by Deaver’s constant determination to outdo himself, seem both over-galvanized and uninspired. Deaver has to call in his main man, quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme (The Burning Wire, 2010, etc.), to run the forensics that yield a crucial clue. The bevy of criminals working independently and at serious cross-purposes is not to be believed. And the ending is his most conventional in years.
A serious page-turner that would have been even better if it had ended a hundred pages earlier.