A private eye seeking to help a military friend matches wits with a devious, deviant killer.
U.S. Air Force vet Lindsey Rakes flew drones until the stress of the job led to her abrupt resignation. Her struggles to get her head together since then include going on a date with Rasha Samara, a landscape architect originally from Saudi Arabia, even though she’s still in the middle of a divorce from Brandon Goff. When she receives an elegantly written death threat, “Vengeance is justice,” signed “Caliphornia,” and the handwriting resembles the signature on a note she got from Rasha, she brings the evidence to her old friend Roland Ford, who now works as a private investigator. Ford, who narrates in a curt and gritty first person, takes the case to FBI specialist Joan Taucher. Taucher, convinced that danger is imminent, demands to see Lindsey, who’s been in hiding. As Ford negotiates with Taucher, and Taucher probes the Rasha and Caliphornia connections, Ford tries to convince Lindsey of the danger she’s in, maybe even from Brandon. Both probes unearth valuable leads that widen rather than narrow the list of suspects. Caliphornia claims a tangible victim in Kenny Bryce, a former Air Force colleague of Lindsey’s who, like her, received a threatening note. After Bryce is beheaded, Ford moves to put Lindsey under his personal protection. Digging into Bryce’s history puts Ford on the road to finding Caliphornia, and when he does, the tale morphs from a whodunit into a nail-biting cat-and-mouse thriller.
Prolific Parker’s impressive prose and skill in sketching concise character portraits make his complex follow-up to The Room of White Fire (2017) an all-too-believable page-turner.