Layers of deception obscure the truth about the death of a beloved heiress.
Shortly before her death, wealthy philanthropist Emma Kost O’Neal wrote to her grand-niece Manny explaining that she was changing her will to leave everything to Manny and imploring the girl to watch out for sensitive, troubled young Matt Wyman. At an unspecified later time, Manny and Matt are living together in rural exile and bickering about Mrs. O’Neal’s death. Though it was ruled a suicide, Matt believes that Mrs. O’Neal’s lawyer, a man named Sullivan, killed her and presses a reluctant Manny to help him prove it. Selective depositions, detective notes and letters fill in sections of a complicated puzzle piecemeal and introduce a handful of secondary characters while leaving the fundamental questions unanswered. Then Hogan jumps forward again to reveal Matt, now calling himself Levon, living so restlessly in an asylum that he’s moved to escape. Manny meanwhile finds love (or does she?) with paralegal Ann Dillon, who seems nearly as determined as Matt to tie Sullivan to the crime. Mark Moraski, the skeptical police detective who first caught the case, and his partner David Talmadge, clash over Matt’s guilt, a process that keeps the case alive for them.
Hogan (Man Out of Time, 2003, etc.) tantalizes readers with a kaleidoscopic plot, but his ambitious novel succeeds through the complexity of his characters, who keep the reader guessing.