A Boston reporter finds himself in the middle of a murder case after scuffling with street punks in Daley’s (South Pacific Survivor: In Samoa, 2009) latest thriller.
Newsman Dax Grantham hopes to move to the investigative beat and tries to hone his skills by trailing his psychologist wife, Debbie, while he’s dressed as an old man, for practice. He’s sidetracked, however, when thugs accost an old woman and his martial arts training enables him to step in. An editor who learns of the incident asks him to cover the story, but Dax dodges assignments relating to the crime. What’s worse, his trailing of Debbie has made him suspect that she might be having an affair, as she and the mayor’s chief of staff, Bradley Swanson, have met on several occasions. When Bradley is found murdered, police find evidence against Debbie and arrest her, so Dax initiates his own investigation into the crime. Unfortunately, he’s tied to the victim, having confronted him about Debbie, and authorities are looking at Dax not only as the vigilante, but as a murder suspect. Despite the author’s playful title, the story isn’t really about Dax as a crime fighter à la Batman, whose name, along with those of other comic-book heroes, turns up frequently. The bulk of the suspense derives, and proficiently so, from Debbie. Dax begins investigating to exonerate his wife, a woman he never fully trusts and often surmises is either setting him up or possibly pointing the evidence in his direction. But he isn’t a squeaky-clean hero; his few fights with criminals occur not when he’s doing his job as a reporter, but by pure happenstance, typically when he’s out spying on Debbie. The gleefully bemusing Dax wears many hats, some good, such as working as an amateur detective, and others considerably less flattering; his obsessively tracking Debbie, without her knowledge, borders on stalking. A lawyer in the Boston area, Daley deepens the mystery by occasionally dropping hints about his protagonist’s back story, which includes an incident years earlier that caused his wife to distrust him and a traumatic high school experience that ultimately comes to light.
Vigilante justice leads to something more complex in this New England–accented novel about a multifaceted reporter.