In this procedural, police cast a wide net in their hunt for a fisherman; reeling in drug traffickers and money launderers becomes a bonus of the search.
Shanisha “Shane” Notfarg is the only female detective and, she emphasizes, “black as well” in the homicide section of the San Diego sheriff’s office. Shane doesn’t like working missing person cases. She thinks they waste department resources because the majority of the people being tracked turn up on their own after an affair or a trip to Las Vegas. Mobile home realtor and resident Arthur “Art” Flynn, affable and recently divorced, proves the exception. Paying his multiple sclerosis–stricken neighbor, Mary Smith, to feed his cat and clean his home while he vacations at a fishing camp, Flynn never returns. In the seven years it takes to solve the case of the missing middle-aged man, Shane discovers he blew the whistle on a money-laundering scheme. The realtor’s actions may have led to his demise—if he truly is dead. Even though police identify probable murder suspects and evidence shows that the trunk of Flynn’s abandoned car once held a corpse with the realtor’s DNA, no body has been discovered. Although the absent Flynn drives the book, so vivid is the author’s characterization of him that readers should feel the vanished man is present. Muir (The Numbers Man, 2010, etc.) also richly details Flynn’s trailer park neighbors and fellow fishermen, but the true standout is Shane, dogged in closing the case. In her 50s, nearly 6 feet tall, and still the object of flirting, she finds that intimidation tactics come to her as easily as her quick identification of a Max Mara wool dress or a Gucci crocodile bag (“Yes, we women notice these things even if we can’t afford them”). The author writes authoritatively about police work; dialogue is credible; and an intricate plotline should keep readers guessing. But what will likely keep them wondering is Muir’s penchant for supplying the height of things and people in inches, sometimes fractional (“stacks of one hundred thousand dollars, each 4.3 inches high”; “a weightlifter, about seventy inches tall”).
Don’t let this engaging story of a missing fisherman be the one that got away.