Inverting the proportions of Hazel Best’s last adventure (Perfect Sins, 2014), Bannister supplements the continuing misfortunes of Hazel’s friend Gabriel Ash with a modest new case involving a computer that gets found under remarkably suspicious circumstances.
None of Gabriel’s training as a security analyst taught him what to do when his wife and sons were kidnapped by Somali pirates four years ago. So he’s mostly gone into a funk. Now he’s finally heard from Cathy, but the news isn’t good. The price for the release of her and the boys, her captors insist in a phone call arranged through arms manufacturer Stephen Graves, is that Gabriel, whose intelligence and tenacity still scare them, kill himself on a live webcast. Meanwhile, Gabriel’s homeless teenage friend Saturday, nee Saul Desmond, undeterred by the fact that Hazel’s on extended medical leave from the Meadowvale Police, has brought her a little problem of his own: a laptop computer he claims to have found in the men’s room of a local service station. DI Dave Gorman and his officers promptly identify the computer’s owner, structural engineer Charles Armitage, and return his property, but the problems, to the sorrow of everyone involved, don’t end there. This second case, abruptly and unsatisfactorily wound up, is nothing more than a pendant to Gabriel’s frantic attempt to win Cathy’s freedom from shadowy figures whose identities gradually become unpleasantly clear.
Not the most penetrating of Bannister’s many studies of damaged souls but one of the cleverest and fastest-moving and the one that heaps perhaps the most additional damage on its sorely tried hero before the final curtain.