A triangle of despair: a natural-born serial killer with a twisted heart; a broken-down PI with one last good deed left in him; and a prostitute on the run for her life. In a noir thriller filled with harrowing action, Andrew Klavan sets his three protagonists and an anonymous narrator on a collision course with death.
Couched in the atmosphere of the starkly brutal Forties mysteries, a retired cop-turned-private investigator tracks a beautiful prostitute knowing that he, in turn, is followed by a serial killer with a hellish agenda of his own. The killer is obsessed, but so is the P.I., in a contest of will and skills.
The enigmatic killer, John Foy, has captured the imagination of P.I. Scott Weiss. In their search for the elusive Julie Wyant, each man nurtures fantasies, albeit vastly different ones: Weiss yearns for a transfusion of hope in a bleak environment, Foy plans the excesses of his twisted nature.
Foy is confident, tracking Weiss’ every move with GPS tracking devices and sensors planted in the ex-detective’s clothes. For his part, never underestimating his quarry or Foy’s sick determination, Weiss tries to accommodate every contingency, constantly outwitted by the “Shadowman” who changes his identity like a chameleon, moving ever closer to his prey, thanks to Weiss: “Something about the scenario he’d laid out in his mind didn’t make sense.”
Then there is Jim Bishop, an irreverent employee of Weiss’ agency who follows his boss, hoping to preventing Weiss’ death at Foy’s hands. A mercenary of sorts, Bishop is no slacker, confronting the everyday violence of the world with a cool arrogance. He steps into a nightmare already in play, caught in the crossfire of Foy’s machinations.
With an eye to the perfect description of violence endemic in the criminal underworld, Klavan still imbues his protagonist with compassion for the fate of others, the peripheral characters equally multi-dimensional - actors on a stage riddled with danger, where life or death define the parameters of daily existence.
In a last, unpredictable standoff between salvation and a murderer who lives far beyond the pale of the ordinary, the action moves from San Francisco to Paradise, CA, to the heat-baked deserts of Nevada and Arizona, pieces of the puzzle falling quietly into place as Weiss speeds across the miles, Foy never far behind.
Without question, Weiss has made Julie’s safety his mission, haunted by the beauty of her face and the horrific backstory he uncovers along the way, driven by the instincts of a man who has seen too much ugliness in his life. No matter the consequences, the dogged detective will finish this case, a bizarre dance with the devil as complex as the twisted trail he follows.