A hot, new drug whose developer has run unauthorized clinical trials provokes another round of anguish, soul-searching and corpses for Philadelphia homicide detective Mike Coletti.
Andrea Wilson is determined to give her pro bono client, heroin addict Tim Green, the best possible defense against the charge that he murdered off-duty police officer Jon Harris, whose corpse he robbed to get money for his next fix. She’s absolutely fearless in court against prosecutor Derrick Bell, even though they’re conducting a torrid affair that dishonors both their marriage vows. Derrick’s wife isn’t much of a presence here, but Andrea’s husband, Paul, head of development at Beech Pharmaceuticals, is such a strong presence that Andrea keeps on having vivid experiences of his guiding presence even after she wakes up in a pool of his blood and the cops come after her for murder. The cops in this case are Coletti, whose hopeless love for Andrea led him to take the rap for a shooting she committed 20 years ago. These days, though, no one would waste any time with a perp charged with only a single homicide—not when someone who calls himself Channing is terminating mob boss Salvatore Vetri’s nephew, Vincenzo, the accused Tim Green, several members of Paul Wilson’s research team, and apparently every witness and accomplice who might imperil his pursuit of Mentasil, the wonder drug that’s not ready for FDA approval but is perfectly ready for the black market.
As fast and furious as Coletti’s earlier cases (The Gravedigger’s Ball, 2011, etc.), though Channing’s blood-soaked pursuit of Mentasil is less interesting than the effects of the drug itself, and Coletti’s detective and rescue work are less interesting still.