What could come between the partners of Peralta & Mapstone, Phoenix’s most active firm of private investigators (The Night Detectives, 2013, etc.)? A cache of stolen diamonds, that’s what.
All the evidence shows that the diamonds were grabbed by Mike Peralta, who wasted no time getting out of town with the swag. David Mapstone, history professor–turned–private eye, can’t believe Mike is guilty, but there’s not much he can do about it. Nor does he have much time to devote to looking for his partner, for manipulative Maricopa County Sheriff Christopher “call me Chris” Melton has pressed him to return as a special deputy to use a newfound wallet to reopen the case of Tom Frazier, an EMT whose body Mapstone found when he was with the Sheriff’s Department back in 1984. Nor will Mapstone’s wife, the gifted hacker Lindsey, be any help this time; she’s hovering between life and death after having been shot by the female assassin Lindsey herself had dubbed “Strawberry Death” after Mapstone barely survived an earlier run-in with her. Just to up the ante and make things a little more challenging, the diamonds in question turn out to have been swiped from the FBI, giving special agents Horace Mann and Edward Cartwright ample excuse to throw their weight around, blustering and distracting.
A bit of mystery, some hints of adultery, a dose of gun (well, holster) lore, and the requisite macho posturing. Somehow, though, the ingredients of Mapstone’s eighth never add up to much more than a miscellany.