In this mystery novel, a private investigator in search of his sister’s killer becomes drawn into a murky world of political intrigue.
Jake Travis learns that Leonard Hawkins, the man suspected of abducting his sister 30 years ago—when she was only 14 years old and he was not quite 8—has shown up dead, likely murdered. All the evidence around the kidnapping points to Hawkins’ guilt—he had a picture of Brittany in his home and a storehouse of pedophiliac pornography, left a letter confessing to the deed, and his DNA matched what was discovered at the crime scene. But Jake remains unconvinced. He later learns that the evidence held by the police was likely tampered with and that a sleazy lawyer was able to take a peek at Jake’s State Department file. The attorney, Bernard Carlsberg, has long-standing ties to some very shady but powerful figures, and Jake connects the dots between him and Peter Omarov, a Russian arms dealer who’s valuable to the U.S. government because of his close ties to both Russia and Ukraine. The obstacles to Jake’s independent investigation are numerous, but the guilt he feels over his sister’s death is punishing, and he presses on for both justice and personal closure. In his latest Jake Travis novel, Lane (The Gail Force, 2016, etc.) artfully constructs an intricate mystery around the equally complex psychology of the protagonist. As Jake moves ever closer to the truth about his sister, he has no choice but to soften his hardened attachment to emotional reticence. When the tale begins, his girlfriend, Kathleen, doesn’t even know he had a sister. But the author’s penchant for labyrinthine plot entanglements can be distracting—it seems unnecessary to make Kathleen a fugitive from the Chicago mob. In addition, almost all of the dialogue is written in a hard-boiled crime-fiction style—quick bouts of cynically witty repartee—that eventually turns tedious: “ ‘If I were a carpenter, would you be my lady?’ ‘Without a doubt.’ ‘Then we’re both idiots.’ ‘Some days you’re the hammer, and some days you’re the nail.’ ”
A psychologically engrossing, if sometimes overwrought, thriller.