Philadelphia Sheriff Chris DeAngelo returns to solve the killing of a political candidate’s wife, complete with a plethora of suspects and motives, in this thriller.
Checking on a car accident, DeAngelo’s taken aback when realizing the body behind the wheel is Sherry Mills, wife of Republican senator/gubernatorial hopeful Steven Mills. But it gets worse: her death was by gunshot. Mayor Elaine Strick wants to expedite the investigation and get it out of the papers, because her town of Macon is suffering from the notoriety surrounding a recent serial-killer case, which the sheriff wrapped up. She nominates the husband as the initial suspect, but then Strick’s also supporting Mills’ primary opponent, Rupert Kerman. As it turns out, there are quite a few people who had reason to prefer Sherry dead. Whoever had been supplying her with pills, for one, may have wanted her silenced, as would certain individuals with knowledge of her affair with a restaurant owner. DeAngelo and his always-reliable deputy, Rosemary Tippets, sift through the evidence to narrow the suspect list, but the most likely person winds up a murder victim, leading to further questions. The sheriff soon comes across more bodies and finds himself in someone’s cross hairs, in a town where everyone seems to use the same .308-caliber rifle that killed Sherry. Mucci’s (A Season to Kill, 2015) tale is dense with plot, which includes an assortment of felonious deeds, from blackmail and burglary to a mobster’s presence. Pinning down a murderer—if it’s just one—is a challenge, but with DeAngelo at the helm, it’s likewise absorbing. The sheriff, for example, rarely sways; sure, he takes time to flirt with “super-hot bartender” Maryanne, but only because she works at the restaurant owned by one of his suspects. DeAngelo layers his first-person narrative with cynicism, equating a snow-covered property with “an arctic outpost in desperate need of resupply.” But he combines this hard-boiled detective quality with a pragmatic outlook, which truly makes him stand out: he’s a struggling alcoholic who still drinks, just less than usual. The sheriff’s a work in progress, knowing his success requires time and effort, an approach he applies to his investigations.
A measured pace as methodical and practical as the murder story’s diplomatic protagonist.