A penitential suicide opens the door to wholesale homicide in an exclusive suburban enclave.
Innis Wheelock, the brains behind wife Valentina’s political ascent to the governorship of New York and the ambassadorship to Italy, has always felt guilty about something. As a party dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi winds down in their Tuxedo Park mansion, he does something about it, stabbing himself in the hands, feet and left side in the pattern of Christ’s stigmata. But his ritual death is only the first of his posthumous messages. A lesser man might have placed in his safe-deposit box a confession of the conspiracy stretching back over 20 years to an apparently victimless car crash. But Innis, who really liked puzzles, has left behind a series of teasing clues to the secret he took to his grave. As luck would have it, someone else seems bent on scattering those clues through an equally ritualized series of murders designed to keep the secret a secret. Is that someone Innis’s best friend Fitzroy Heavener, political operative Peter Nordstrut, Tuxedo Park police chief Clay Vitalli or (horrors!) all of them? And will TV morning-show host Eliza Blake, still fearful in the aftermath of her daughter’s kidnapping (It Only Takes a Moment, 2008, etc.), put the clues together in time to save herself from the killer?
Clark lavishes all the pointless ingenuity of Who Killed the Robins Family? on a transparent mystery, except there’s no cash prize for beating Eliza to the solution.