Seattle Police Detective Tracy Crosswhite’s fourth case takes her out of her hometown, out of her jurisdiction, and out of her comfort zone.
Kurt Schill is nothing but a high school student who does a little illegal crabbing. Imagine his shock when he pulls a crab pot from Puget Sound with a dead woman stuffed inside. The corpse, identified as Lynn Cora Hoff, seems to have no history and no back story; she’d even retrieved the obligatory before-and-after photographs Dr. Yee Wu took at the time of her recent extensive plastic surgery. A series of flashbacks from a spectrally ambiguous point of view opens a window onto a darker side of the story, suggesting that the victim was actually the wife of Portland attorney Graham Strickland. And soon enough, Tracy’s investigation comes to focus on Strickland, whose bride, Andrea, mysteriously vanished during the couple’s climb of Mount Rainier six weeks ago. Lynn’s one close friend, Devin Chambers, is unavailable to shed any light on Lynn’s death, and Andrea’s aunt, Patricia Orr, though she’s available, is no more helpful. Even worse, Tracy faces stiff competition from Detective Stan Fields, of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, over control of the case since Andrea Strickland went missing from his jurisdiction, and Lynn Hoff might have been killed anywhere before being stuffed into that crab pot. Tracy’s vexed relationship with her boss, Capt. Johnny Nolasco, guarantees that this struggle will continue until the case is finally laid to rest.
Dugoni (In the Clearing, 2016, etc.) drills so deep into the troubled relationships among his characters that each new revelation shows them in a disturbing new light. The dizzying descent from a solid, unspectacular procedural to an unholy tangle of crimes makes this his best book to date.