Some D.C. murders have no leads; Frank Kearney’s and José Phelps’s latest just might have too many. The victim, investigative journalist Mary Keegan, had in her day ruffled feathers from Moscow to Tashkent to Capitol Hill. Her latest project—a book on famous sons of famous fathers—profiles not only Kennedy-era Secretary of State Charles Trevor and his undersecretary son David, but real estate mogul John Sheffield and his druglord dad Lamar. But the 20-year partners zero in on one striking clue: the corpse’s severed pinky. It’s all too similar to the missing digit in a case two deadbeat colleagues, Henry (Cold Case) Coleman and Leon Janowitz, have back-burnered: the stabbing in Rock Creek Park of Susan Boukedes, senior American employee at the Greek embassy. By linking the two cases, Kearney and Phelps (A Murder of Honor, 2000) uncover a trail of cyberstalking through the women’s Internet provider, LORE.COM, a New Age startup that runs online games based on Arthurian legend. When the media, led by talking-head Hugh Worsham, learn of the Keegan-Boukedes connection, their cry of “serial killer” sends Kearney’s and Phelps’s risk-aversive boss, Randolph Emerson, into the stratosphere. But Kearney and Phelps are worried about more than bad press; they know that a real serial killer won’t stop till he’s caught.
Almost a grand slam, but Andrews trumps his own ace, trashing his own careful clueing by pushing his climax for one jolt too many.