In Doss’ debut thriller, a lawyer and a medical investigator both suspect that an accidental death is actually the work of a calculating, meticulous killer.
When attorney Elliot Carter’s body is found hanging from a tree, police want to write off the death as autoerotic asphyxiation. But fellow lawyer Tom Halloran believes that his friend was murdered, and though physical evidence doesn’t support his theory, Hollis Joplin of the medical examiner’s office also has his doubts—especially after learning that Elliot’s estranged ex-wife–to-be, Anne, had hired a PI who’s suddenly missing. As Halloran and Joplin each begin an investigation into the mysterious death, Doss’ twisty, curvy plot dishes out the goods: scandalous secrets, including blackmail and extramarital affairs; another death or two that appear to be suicides; and a possible connection to a 20-year-old kidnapping case. The lengthy list of suspects is impressive, and readers won’t find it easy pinpointing the killer’s identity, since no single piece of evidence condemns or clears anyone. The clues, such as Elliot’s visit to a urologist prior to his death, merely push distrust from one person to the next. What makes Halloran and Joplin a fascinating duo is that they aren’t really a duo; they investigate the death—and, before long, deaths—separately. Though the men occasionally swap information, the novel is more often two perspectives of the same case: former cop Joplin, the professional, and Halloran, the novice, though the fact that he’s the executor of Elliot’s will gives him good reason to ask questions. Doss avoids repetition—readers don’t have to watch Halloran and Joplin uncover the same evidence—while providing plenty of drama for the men, since each has a personal link to someone who falls under suspicion. A love triangle with Joplin, resident pathologist Carrie and lady’s man/pathologist Jack can be distracting when it sidetracks Joplin, who’s clearly distraught that Carrie is attracted to Jack, from his investigation, but disrupting the thought process of a man with eidetic memory does add spice to the main storyline.
A murder mystery that sneaks up, takes hold and refuses to let go.