Hamilton gives private eye Alex McKnight (A Stolen Season, 2006, etc.) a rest and introduces a probation officer who’s being stalked by a crazy.
Solid citizen Joe Trumbull is honest, affable, dedicated to his job and good at it. In Kingston, N.Y., where he was born and grew up, people really like him. They also feel sorry for him. Three days before his wedding, his fiancée, Laurel, was strangled. Two years later, the killer is still at large. Now, for the first time since then, Joe, nervous as a teenager, prepares for a date with Marlene. Though it’s a blind date arranged by mutual friends, it goes so well that Joe experiences something unfamiliar and slightly unsettling: a jolt of optimism. It doesn’t last. Unbelievably, horribly, Marlene is strangled. In short order two more women with connections to Joe die violently in disturbingly similar ways, and the cops begin casting meaningful looks his way. Joe grasps that he’s being framed, of course. An insane but clever predator has set his sights on a bizarre plan to punish Joe. But who? And why? By the time Joe knows enough to answer those questions, he’ll wish he hadn’t.
It’s hard not to like a good guy like Joe. The plotting goes a bit Grand Guignol at the end, but Hamilton fans are prepared for that.