The hot Santa Ana winds blow a constant background to Pyschic Investigator Elizabeth Chase’s latest case (Pisces Rising, 2000, etc.). Matthew Fielding, four-year-old son of wealthy high-tech mogul Franklin Fielding, has been kidnapped from their Rancho Santa Fe home, next door to Elizabeth’s parents’ house. Faced with no clues and no ransom note, the cops call in Elizabeth. In the Fieldings’ house, she smells smoke, although there is ostensibly no fire. Within hours, though, a wildfire is raging through Rancho Santa Fe. Racing to help her parents, Elizabeth takes TV reporter Randy Twain into the inferno to save his camerawoman, who was nearly overcome while filming the Fieldings’ incineration in their Jaguar. Elizabeth’s parents and their home survive the blaze, but Matthew, now an orphan, is still missing. Meanwhile, the fire department discovers that although the Santa Anas fanned the flames, an arsonist is responsible for exploding the Fieldings’ propane tank. Convinced Matthew is still alive, Elizabeth investigates Franklin Fielding’s family, including the childless sister he named Matthew’s guardian, and Starcom, his giant telecommunications company. With unsolicited help from reporter Twain, she uncovers executives inflamed by rivalries and protesters incensed by environmental issues. Sifting through the ashes of more arson, and battered by the unrelenting Santa Anas, Elizabeth must trust a clairvoyant vision to find Matthew—and her mother’s strength to save her from the arsonist.
Complemented by more mundane detective work, Chase’s psychic intuition fits right into the apocalyptic southern California landscape. Lawrence jazzes up traditional hard-boiled hunches with New Age parapsychology to deliver old-fashioned excitement.