A mystery/thriller that’s brimming with action.
Salem, Oregon, homicide detective Terrence Jack Davis is enjoying a second honeymoon in Hawaii when his wife, Sophie, suddenly disappears. He immediately becomes the prime suspect when it’s discovered that Sophie apparently took out a $2 million dollar insurance policy on herself right before the trip. Jack is permitted to leave town due to a lack of evidence, and after an emotionally distraught, alcohol-besotted leave of absence, he returns to the force in Salem, where someone murders another police officer, execution-style. While investigating that case, Jack begins to uncover clues that suggest that Sophie might still be alive, and Sophie’s 20-year-old daughter, Sandra, suspects the same. Before leaving for Hawaii, Sophie, a reporter, had just finished a three-part exposé of child sex trafficking, and Jack starts to believe that her disappearance is connected to it. The complex plot goes on to involve a Mexican drug cartel, the CIA, and a grim revelation about how the U.S. government obtains information regarding terrorist activity. Spangler’s debut effort is wildly implausible, but that’s a virtue for this mystery, as each plot twist remains impossible to predict. Jack is something of a boilerplate pulp fiction cop: bedraggled by past trauma, hypermasculine, and humbly heroic. This isn’t a character-driven story, though, but one propelled by a relentless pace and bursts of extravagant violence. Much of the dialogue seems almost comically shopworn, as if lifted from an old television show, as when an admiring female coos: “Jack Davis, every time I convince myself that you’re a Neanderthal, you say something sweet and thoughtful.” The book does seem written for the big screen, however, as the author is more comfortable describing explosions and gunfights than detailing nuance. Some readers might balk at the length of the work as well. Despite all this, though, Spangler has an undeniable knack for depicting heart-pounding action, and this thriller certainly plays to his strengths.
A flawed but fast-paced novel that reads like a blockbuster action movie.