Classy ex-classics professor Bertrand McAbee and his multicultural mystery-solving posse go the distance with a former military sniper turned vigilante in the fourth book of McCaffrey’s (A Byzantine Case, 2010, etc.) reliable detective series.
After a failed black op in Kuwait circa 2006, the arrogant, unstable Marine Sergeant Alex Love finally snaps. The sharpshooter’s increasingly violent outbursts result in a full honorable discharge at 100-percent disability for psychiatric reasons. Love’s career and reputation are ruined, and the rest of his life is, too, since he knows far too much about American covert activities in the Middle East to ever be free of government surveillance. So he decides to “die”—if only statistically. The calm yet delusional veteran carefully crafts an array of false identities before faking his death and becoming an avenging angel on a mission to rid the world of lowlife scum—including assorted criminals and pretty much anyone else he dislikes. Unlike the real-life, random 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, which this story in some ways recalls, Love specifically (and literally) targets his kills. By the novel’s midpoint, Love has 99 notches in his rifle’s stock and the police haven’t a clue. Enter professor-turned-PI McAbee, at the behest of a staple of detective fiction: a grieving widow. With his diverse crew of allies backing him up, each with useful skills involving brains, brawn and/or technological savvy, McAbee is soon on the trail of the assassin. Aficionados of the genre will adore the author’s clever handling of familiar tropes (including, for example, his depiction of a nerdy genius character with limited social skills). One highlight is the sassy, steely Augusta Satin, the canny detective’s protégé and possible love interest; with her on the scene, it’s easy to miss the multimillion-dollar cache of blood diamonds that becomes the focus of the plot.
An entertaining mystery, although not one for the gun-shy.