The apparent murder of a recovering alcoholic leads police to suspect the dead man’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsee.
Harmon Hesse is found dead with his wrists slit, an apparent suicide, but detectives think someone may have done the cutting for him. Fellow AA-attendee Daniel McBride is the cops’ top suspect. Harmon had been Daniel’s sponsor in the recovery program, but their relationship soured. A confrontation between the two was witnessed; Daniel believed that Harmon had killed his dog. But the icing on the cake? Some of Harmon’s blood is found in Daniel’s car. The police arrest Daniel, who has a mountain of evidence stacked against him. Jensen’s book opens in full throttle—by page three, someone’s been accused of murder. The novel then focuses on the repercussions of the murder and ensuing investigation rather than on the actual investigation. Detective Carmen Sanchez spends more time dating Daniel’s houseguest, Ben, than gathering information. Daniel’s wife, Helen, seems solely concerned about the case’s affect on her run for mayor. And attorney Albert Ramirez has no interest in proving Daniel’s innocence. Jensen lets the pages smolder with secrets—Helen’s possibly having an affair; Lenny, Daniel’s best friend and business partner, is clearly hiding something; and the mysterious witness prepped to testify for the DA doesn’t seem to be motivated by the prospect of serving justice. The author’s prose is simple in its narration, which keeps the plot and pages turning. He also throws in a number of standout scenes, including Daniel’s interrogation, where the man—sans a lawyer—holds a policeman’s gaze, coolly smokes a cigarette and answers not a single question. The final chapter is little more than a wrap-up.
A modest style of writing paves the way for bold characters and a swift narrative cadence.