The six-foot-tall Norwegian-American protagonist of two previous literary thrillers by Griffith (Stay, 2002, etc.) takes charge again in this complex story about a wealthy, capable woman who lives by her own rules.
Former Atlanta police officer Aud Torvingen and close friend Dornan fly to Seattle, where Torvingen must tend to kinks in her local real-estate holdings and meet with her mother, an ambassador visiting Seattle on a diplomatic mission from Norway. Recently remarried (she’s long divorced from Torvingen’s American father), she seems at peace with her daughter’s lesbian lifestyle, but the two women are still unable to communicate. Soon Torvingen finds herself enmeshed in the affairs of an independent film company shooting out of a warehouse she owns. An incident on the set with potentially deadly consequences forces her to rely on her mother and to wonder who—or what—stands behind the escalating string of disasters plaguing the production’s progress. Never content to let things resolve on their own, Torvingen works to expose a complicated and sometimes difficult-to-follow scheme that affects both her private and professional lives. Investigating the seamier side of high-stakes real estate, she finds herself drawn to another woman as she hasn’t been since the death of her lover. The action in Seattle grows darker and more complicated. A subplot centering around the women’s self-defense class Torvingen taught in Atlanta before leaving for the Northwest, though interesting, tends to muddy the main story line.
Stark but sensuous writing and a lesbian angle played for emotion over sex propel this strong narrative to its conclusion.