Bay Area forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett’s fourth case (The Liar’s Lullaby, 2010, etc.) finds her caught in the middle of a fantasy crime spree turned deadly.
Hedge-fund king Peter Reiniger is no ordinary father, and his 21st-birthday present to his thoroughly spoiled daughter Autumn is no ordinary gift. He’s hired Edge Adventures to orchestrate a weekend scenario in which Autumn becomes the Queen of Crime and five of her best buds get to play the roles of her lawyer, her accomplices and her nemesis. But not even Edge’s reputation for elaborate planning can prevent rogue financier Dane Haugen from stepping into the middle of this latter-day fairy tale and, motivated by some obscure harm he suffered at Reiniger’s hands, kidnapping Autumn for real for $20 million. Jo and her main man, Sgt. Gabe Quintana, are on their way back from attorney Phelps Wylie’s final resting place—an abandoned gold mine in which, Jo quickly rules, he certainly didn’t commit suicide—when they stop to play Good Samaritan and are rewarded by getting taken captive along with Autumn and her friends. Not enough complications for you? Another freelance kidnapper plans to grab Autumn and company from Haugen’s clutches, ransom Autumn and make short work of the supporting cast—one of whom has the bright idea of jumping the bad guys, turning a routine fake-kidnapping-turned-real into a fight for survival against armed criminals, rattlesnakes and every other wilderness peril you can imagine.
The mind-bogglingly improbable setup and the number of wild cards in the mix guarantee endless plot twists, most of them so diabolically engineered that you’ll forget how wafer-thin the characters are.