Race-baiting violence invades Sharon McCone’s Yuletide celebrations.
Christmas is a time when you want your family to gather around you, but not because they’re offering support after your birth father, 82-year-old painter Elwood Farmer, has been viciously beaten by white supremacists, extending his visit from the Montana reservation he calls home and changing its venue to San Francisco General Hospital. As Elwood hovers between life and death, McCone, egged on by questions from coldhearted Sgt. Priscilla Anders that imply that the attack wasn’t just random, racks her brains for anyone from her first 32 cases who might have it in for her personally. The list she comes up with, which includes the likes of her husband and partner Hy Ripinsky’s vengeful ex-partner Gage Renshaw (Someone Always Knows, 2016), is a lot shorter than the list of friends and relations who’ve come together to offer comfort and help: her birth mother, Saskia Blackhawk, now convinced she’s engaged to Elwood; McCone’s symbolic cousin, Will Camphouse; McCone’s nephew, Mick Savage, chief researcher at McCone & Ripinsky; and dozens of other M&R staffers. McCone’s sleuthing, at once heartfelt and half-hearted, uncovers nothing but false leads until she stumbles on a section in her copy of Hints on Criminal Investigation admonishing her to be mindful of “MISDIRECTION” shortly before a malware attack and an extortion demand up the ante while clearing up a mystery that was never all that mysterious to begin with.
More seasonal goodwill (think of a rainbow-cast remake of It’s a Wonderful Life) than misdirection in a story that perfectly illustrates its heroine’s bromide: “When you think about it, all crimes are stupid.”