In the dark aftermath of mass killings in their (fictional) upstate New York town of Promise Falls, police detective Barry Duckworth and PI Cal Weaver find themselves on parallel tracks while investigating the targeting of two local young men by vigilantes.
The vigilantes participate in a website called Just Desserts that promotes the punishment of alleged wrongdoers who have escaped prosecution by posting their whereabouts and other personal information about them. Duckworth is investigating the abduction of 20-something Brian Gaffney, who, after disappearing for two days that he can't account for, was found with a murder confession crudely tattooed on his back. Weaver has been hired to protect 18-year-old Jeremy Pilford, mocked nationwide as "The Big Baby" for dodging a vehicular homicide conviction based on the defense that he was so pampered from birth he couldn't be held responsible for his actions. The plot is driven by secrets Duckworth's own 25-year-old son, Trevor, is keeping about the company Jeremy's "old stock" great-aunt has been keeping. Billed as a stand-alone spinoff of Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy, the new book has a stripped-down, tautly focused quality that lifts it above its plot-stuffed, heavily populated predecessors. The personal lives of Duckworth and Weaver, both of whom are haunted by the tragic events in The Twenty-Three (2016), matter more than before. But that isn't to say the spinoff doesn't hook you from the start, springing neat surprises you likely won't see coming.
Barclay's latest small-town thriller is one of his best.