A nasty accident on a rain-soaked Brighton street is equally fatal for its victims and its survivors.
Whether he’s distracted by recent sex or the weather or the early hour, American student Tony Revere rides his bicycle into an intersection on the wrong side of the street and is promptly mowed down by a lorry whose unknown driver speeds off. Two other drivers have been involved in the accident: long-haul trucker Stuart Ferguson and widowed solicitor Carly Chase. Ferguson is seriously injured; Carly is detained by the police after her night-before drinking causes her to fail a Breathalyzer test. Arrested and left in a cell, she despairs of her ruined day, the impending loss of her driving license and her uncertainty about how to get her son Tyler, 12, to school and back. Nor is it cause for joy when the Brighton CID, under veteran Det. Supt. Roy Grace (Dead Like You, 2010, etc.), clears her of causing the accident and releases her, for by then a much more serious threat has surfaced. Tony’s controlling mother Fernanda, whose jailed father is “the New York Godfather” and whose husband Lou is the Mob’s chief banker, flies in from Long Island to wail, gnash her teeth and offer a $100,000 reward for the identification (not, be it noted, the capture and conviction) of her son’s killer. Meanwhile, convinced that all three drivers are at fault, Fernanda privately offers a killer named Tooth $1 million to eliminate them all, preferably in baroque and painful ways. It’s almost too easy for Tooth to dispose of the first two unfortunates, but as he closes in on Carly, she hatches a desperate scheme to save herself. It doesn’t exactly go as expected, and she’s left much worse off than before with still many pages to go.
As usual, James spins a kitchen-sink thriller that goes on forever, and very enjoyably, though it certainly could have been cut down to a single night’s reading.