When a house goes up in flames in the dead of the night with a woman and her two children inside, is it accident or murder?
Good thing that African-American homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton is a very clever cop with deep ties in her community that will serve her well in her new case. It’s up to her and her annoying white LAPD partner, Colin Taggert, to determine whether the fire that killed Juliet Chatman and her children, Cody and Chloe, was meant to cover up a murder. The fire was definitely arson. Hostile, troubled Cody had been setting a lot of fires lately, but autopsies revealed that both Juliet and the children had Valium in their systems, and Juliet had advanced ovarian cancer. Why did Juliet have a gun clutched in her hand and a car packed with suitcases for her and the children? And what to make of her garbled 911 call about someone killing her? Juliet’s husband, Christopher, a commodities broker who works odd hours, left for work, returned during the fire, and had to be tackled by the firemen to keep him outside. Lou recently took back her own cheating husband, Greg—handsome, wealthy, and deeply untrustworthy—after the body of her sister, murdered long ago, was finally found (Land of Shadows, 2014). Her partner and her boss wonder if her marital problems are coloring her perception of Christopher, an inveterate liar. Christopher's neighbor and best friend, Ben Oliver, an insurance lawyer whom Christopher recently tapped for a loan, is immediately on the scene. Even if Juliet and Christopher have been big spenders, she can’t imagine how they went through the $3 million his parents left him. Every day brings unsettling discoveries, more questions, and further complications that force Lou to confront her own worst fears.
Hall outdoes her stellar debut in an exploration of vile secrets that pays homage to that earlier master of complex California homicide, Raymond Chandler.