A mysterious pregnancy holds the key to a terrible secret.
On a frigid January morning, Brady Coyne’s dog, let out in the yard, finds the body of a young woman who’s come there to die. Nobody knows who the snow-covered victim is. Nobody knows whether she died of a miscarriage or an abortion, or why someone only two or three months pregnant should have been carrying such a well-developed child, or why a 16-year-old was taking fertility drugs in the first place. Most urgently, nobody knows why she had the Boston attorney’s address in her pocket. Brady wonders whether she came to see the townhouse’s former owners; Brady’s ladylove Evie Banyon, off at a conference of hospital administrators; or Brady himself (Nervous Water, 2005, etc.). But he can’t help feeling guilty that he was unable to save her life, so he asks several street people and prostitutes whether they can find out anything about her. His sense of guilt only deepens when his amateur operatives start to get themselves kidnapped or killed. Identifying the victim will be the beginning of a journey that will take Brady to a cozy New England town whose closemouthed citizens are helping to conceal a monstrous crime.
Though the clues are doled out with an eye-dropper, the strong central idea makes Brady’s 22nd case one of his meatiest and most disturbing.