The SFPD once more calls on forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett, this time to help explain the shooting death of a singer/songwriter whose showy comeback entrance to a concert stage was cut short when she was shot halfway down her zipline.
Tasia McFarland has always been a wild woman, so it’s no surprise when she plans to zip down a wire to join her lover, rocker Searle Lacroix, onstage at the Giants’ ballpark, amid billows of manufactured smoke. The surprise is that when she emerges from the smoke, Tasia’s been shot in the neck, evidently with the .45 she was holding herself only seconds before—a weapon that’s legally registered to her long-ago husband, Robert McFarland, who in the meantime has been elected President of the United States. Clearly there are some tricky angles here. Lt. Amy Tang, the homicide detective who’s on the scene along with Jo and her sister Tina, wants to know whether Tasia shot herself or had help. At first the case for suicide seems overwhelming. After bipolar Tasia went off her meds, a timely Xanax put her into a mixed state in which she was both excited and depressed. On the other hand, she told anyone who’d listen that she feared an assassination attempt that was only the beginning of a bigger plot (against the president?) and left behind two new songs she claimed would hold the clues to her murder. Though she sheds curiously little light on Tasia’s state of mind, Jo does some smart detective work linking the volatile performer to both a determined stalker and a right-wing conspiracy whose home base is the Tree of Liberty website published by one Tom Paine. The ambitious, preposterous plot is filled with interoffice power plays, suspect political operatives, double-crosses by media types and action sequences, which Gardiner (The Memory Collector, 2009, etc.) pumps up brilliantly.
Catnip for Jeffery Deaver fans who can’t wait for their next fix and like-minded souls who value constant stimulation over plausibility.