A tell-all book gets its author silenced.
Everyone in San Francisco’s North Beach seems to know about the book Whitney Warfield is writing, but only a dozen or so have sweaty palms. These chosen few have cause to be certain that in the forthcoming opus their names will be writ large, accompanied by combustible secrets. So when the cranky novelist is found dead, stabbed to death with a Mont Blanc pen, a tailor-made suspect list is readily available. At the top stands William Blake, also known as Sweet William, male escort to the rich and infamous. It would be self-delusion, he acknowledges to Carly Palladino, to deny his serious need for professional help. Carly, partnered by laid-back Noah Lang in their newly minted private eye firm, agrees that their angry public squabble on the day of the late unlamented’s death has probably come to the SFPD’s attention. The agency will have to track down the real murderer in order to keep Sweet William out of harm’s way. Carly and Lang divide the suspect list between them, hoping that high-pressure interviews will cause the guilty someone to crack. Additional corpses and the requisite red herrings intervene, but at length the partners, in a protracted, Agatha Christie–like denouement, put the case to rest.
Tierney (Death in Pacific Heights, 2009, etc.) places a pair of bright, appealing protagonists in a dim, derivative story even they can’t rescue.