Gardiner is back for a third go-round with heroic forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett, a no-nonsense heroine with equal parts moxy and and muscle. In this installment - following on the heels of The Dirty Secrets Club and The Memory Collector - Beckett investigates the death of a once-popular singing star named Tasia McFarland. The scientist must unravel the details of the death: Was it suicide
in a grand and public way? Was it heinous murder? Was it a simple stunt gone bad?
She opens the case and charges in with mental guns blazing. She pores over song lyrics, interviews Ace Chennault, McFarland's biographer, and even puts herself conspicuously in harm's way in an attempt to solve the case. Beckett is fearless in her pursuit of anti-government extremist Tom Paine, and even U.S. President Robert McFarland himself (if that name sounds familiar it should be - he was Tasia's ex-husband).
Gardiner writes in taut and spirited prose. Here is the book's opening:
"Hack Shirazi braced himself in the open door of the helicopter and gazed across San Francisco Bay at the crowded ballpark. Wind and engine noise buffeted him. The evening sun bisected his field of vision. The check had cleared, so he was going to deliver the Rambo. But they were running late, which put the failing gold light square in his eyes."
You can see that chopper drifting across the sky as it hovers across the crowd. Somewhere down there, singer Tasia McFarland is about to sing her last note.
That is where Jo Beckett will begin orchestrating her own version of a symphony - one built on evidence, instinct, and courage.