Time for San Francisco private eye Wyatt Hunt to confront the obligatory demons from his past as he searches for the killer of his birth mother.
“How did your mother die?” asks an anonymous text message. The founder and principal of The Hunt Club, who’s never known who his birth parents were, soon learns at least part of the answer: She was killed 40 years ago, only three years after her marriage to the man who was tried twice for her murder and set free twice by hung juries. Father Don Bernard, the priest who married Margaret and Kevin Carson, has more news for Hunt: an ancient letter from his father swearing his innocence and saying that he’s leaving the Bay Area for a job in Texas. The ice-cold trail, lit at first only by the flares of further text messages, turns red-hot when Ivan Orloff, Hunt’s newest investigator, gets killed after making what seemed like some pretty routine inquiries. The trail leads from Evie Secrist, Margaret’s best friend, back to the Jonestown mass suicide a generation ago, and forward to Evie’s ex-husband Lionel Spencer. But it ends again, frustratingly, with Spencer’s own death, which Hunt’s old SFPD frenemy, homicide inspector Devin Juhle, is all too eager to write off as suicide. Will Hunt and Tamara Dade, his veteran assistant and new lover, be able to pick up the scent the cops missed?
Most readers will see ahead of Hunt where this is all headed. Nor will many of them consider the substitution of the hero’s back story for Lescroart’s customary sociological probe of San Francisco corruption (Treasure Hunt, 2010, etc.) an improvement. The scene in which Hunt finally comes face to face with his anonymous informant, however, is transfixing.