For the first time in her long-running Capital Crimes franchise (Murder at Ford’s Theater, 2002, etc.), Truman spins her murderous web around a truly fictional center.
Was Jean Kaporis, a rookie reporter for the Tribune’s Panache section, strangled by one of her coworkers, as preliminary evidence suggests? Or was her demise the first act of a serial killer who went on to choke young TV producer Colleen McNamara, who had no ties with the paper? Veteran Trib reporter Joe Wilcox, under constant pressure from Metro managing editor Paul Morehouse to produce new stories whether or not there are new developments, is praying that 1 + 1 equals more than two. Joe clings to his serial-killer theory even though Det. Edith Vargas-Swayze insists that two murders are too few to sustain it. Truman focuses effectively on the ways Joe’s need to milk the story by planting quotes and working his threadbare contacts, from his ex-lover Edith to his TV reporter daughter Roberta, shreds his life at the same time it creates a journalistic echo chamber in which the Trib reports only what its higher-ups want to believe. The absence of Truman’s usual gossipy historical asides is a definite plus.
The mystery itself is slight, with sparse clues, little doubt of the killer’s identity and a gaping loose end that would get a less experienced author tossed back to the slush pile.