Attorney Mike Marchetti returns to investigate unexplained deaths on a Hawaiian island while an epidemic plagues the U.S. mainland in Holcroft’s (Patriot’s Blood, 2014) latest thriller.
Marchetti’s romantic Kauai getaway with reporter girlfriend Vicki Steele is wrecked when someone attacks the couple. Vicki needs to recuperate, and Marchetti, with his Dallas law partner buying him out, spends his free time tracking down the assailant—possibly related to terrorists whose plans the attorney had previously thwarted. He likewise agrees to help Vicki’s friend Janine Nichols, one of several locals wanting answers regarding suspicious deaths, starting with Janine’s close friend reporter Brad Vaughn, a “super-cautious” driver killed in a car accident. Reteaming with retired detective/private eye Tom Shannon, Marchetti zeroes in on one of Brad’s stories: a false-flag operation. At the same time, deaths in various mainland states, all symptomatically identical, seem to confirm a viral outbreak. As the CDC searches for Ground Zero, some in the White House surmise that the virus is an orchestrated strike against the U.S. Villains, meanwhile, are devising something even more treacherous, set for an upcoming event in Honolulu, which may intersect with Marchetti and Tom’s investigation. The two men make headway on at least one of the cases, inadvertently putting themselves in the path of a very dangerous individual who excels at keeping things quiet via abductions or murder. Holcroft, as in his preceding novel, builds a credible back story for his protagonist. Marchetti, for example, though still only a lawyer, is already invested—find the person(s) who attacked him and Vicki —before Janine asks for a favor. There’s ample coverage for the subplots, including agencies discussing measures to prevent the virus spreading further and retaliation against the culprits they believe are responsible. Most but not all of the baddies are known, and despite making a few avoidable mistakes (for example, mapping out the nefarious plan for a hostage), their scheme is both methodical and brilliant. Marchetti, a former Marine, once again winds up immersed in action before it’s over, while the ending takes a surprising turn and closes with a lingering uneasiness.
The protagonist’s second run-in with conspiracy results in more exhilaration; readers will surely welcome a third.