Investigators delve into a case involving possible international espionage and a heart attack that’s looking more like murder in this thriller.
Private eye Jordan Anderson’s latest client is Sasha Goldman, an executive secretary at U.S. Navy contractor Kingman Corporation. Sasha’s worried that boss Shaun O’Riley’s uncharacteristically furtive behavior (for example, daily private meetings) indicates that something illegal is happening at the company. There’s also the mysterious cargo intended for Kingman’s Seattle warehouse that inexplicably wound up in Afghanistan. Jordan sees potential for information via George Kilburn, investigator for the Senate oversight committee, who Sasha says met with Shaun. A mutual friend sets Jordan and George up on a date, but Jordan, slyly extracting intelligence, so impresses George that he hires her. The cargo, it turns out, was transporting a military security system, and George believes Jordan can work covertly under the pretense of investigating an employee’s complaint. The two first check out Chester Rafferty, the disbursement officer who died of a heart attack shortly before the cargo’s shipping date. No history of heart problems makes Chester’s death suspicious, of course, while Boris Urich, Chester’s replacement, may have a few too many secrets in his past. At the same time, Jordan and George’s professional relationship leads to romance, making her nervous when he heads to Afghanistan—and maybe toward danger. The novel is a breezy, unhurried mystery. With Boris the strongest suspect, Barrett (New Beginnings, 2013) concentrates on the investigation, even Sasha’s seemingly trivial Internet search involving a probable accomplice. There are definitely plot turns, including Boris’ motive (other than theft). But the likable Jordan gets a little too much praise from George and others when most of what she does is basic research—a mere perusal of the autopsy report is noticeably revealing. Still, camaraderie among the characters makes the good guys engaging, particularly when nearly every gathering to recap the case is an excuse for a restaurant outing. And while piecing together the evidence is a slow process, so is the developing intimacy between Jordan and George—kisses whose measured but increasing intensity is certainly worthwhile.
A laudable protagonist who can easily carry another book, one with a bit more mystery and intrigue.