A thriller about old family secrets, bondage and murder.
Homicide detective Jack Fariel’s first case after a bout with cancer involves his high school sweetheart, her rich, psychotic husband and a string of unsolved murders. Fariel hasn’t seen Corie Markham since they were both teenagers and she caught him sleeping with her best friend. Now, Fariel has to interview Corie about the dead man, Brice Shaughnessy, in her guesthouse. After high school, Corie married Evan Markham, a wealthy legal consultant with a taste for bondage and (the reader discovers very early on) murder. Evan keeps his secret life from his wife and associates, but he luxuriates in the memories of past kills. The marriage fell apart as Corie tried to remove herself from Evan’s violent games and power trips. Corie and Brice were friends who, just before his death, were investigating the unsolved murder of Brice’s sister. Other suspects include: Evan’s current mistress; Evan’s mother, Jessie; Jessie’s painting protégé, Lennon; and Corie’s oddly unsympathetic mother, Vi. As the police begin to suspect Evan, Fariel has to balance his feelings for Corie with his focus on the case. The Fariel chapters are confidently written, and Clark paints a convincing portrait of the Denver Police Department in action. Fariel doesn’t have a futuristic crime lab or Sherlockian insights; he just does good police work that’s fun to follow. Roughly half the narrative is told from Evan point of view. His overly deliberate dialogue and movement seem aimed to chill readers with their coldness, but the effect is too stiff, and Evan becomes yet another stock psycho in a dapper suit and a fast car. Also, reveals in the first few chapters undercut the suspense. While the reader doesn’t know until the end if Evan killed Brice or why, Evan is so evil that the novel loses a great deal of tension—after all, he had to be involved somehow. Adding the sexual-bondage subplot leads to some vivid images and ruminations on power, but it’s also distracting.
A solid police procedural that loses its way among too many characters and subplots.