Lucas Davenport goes up against a pair of antiques thieves who kill for love and money.
The crime scene—a posh St. Paul house trashed, electronics hardware looted, important jewelry untouched—indicates that wealthy Constance Bucher and her maid were the victims of opportunistic thieves, maybe kids, who bashed them to death for no good reason. But Lucas, aided by the sharp observations of his suspect, the maid’s nephew, gets a hint of something more organized and sinister: a criminal conspiracy that may stretch back to a similar theft and murder in Chippewa Falls four years ago, and broaden to include a fraudulent set of quilts that were sold to area museums even though they weren’t quite museum quality. Lucas’s chances of spotting the killers, antiques dealers Leslie and Jane Little Widdler, who use murder as foreplay, are seriously compromised by the fact that he’s using them as expert consultants on the case. But even as they’re hiding in plain sight, they can feel the unwitting Lucas breathing down their necks. So they look around for a distraction and come up with a honey. The other big case Lucas has in hand is the ambitious Minnesota State Senate president’s admitted romance with Kathy Barth and his alleged liaison with her daughter Jesse, 16. If only something could happen to Jesse, reason the Widdlers. When their scheme creates some unexpected blowback, they methodically turn their minds to getting rid of each other. It sounds as if things will be almost too easy for Lucas (Broken Prey, 2005, etc.), but Sandford still has a few surprises in store en route to the satisfyingly vengeful conclusion.
The villains are cartoon monsters, but Sandford unfolds his unlikely tale with a pro’s command of pace, mixing his pitches like an All-Star.