Despite having John Lescroart's name on the cover, THE HUNT CLUB is not an Abe Glitsky/Dismas Hardy novel. While it is set in San Francisco, and both men make their presence known (directly and indirectly), the book introduces a new team --- that of private investigator Wyatt Hunt and homicide detective Devin Juhle. Like Glitsky and Hardy, the two men are close but unlikely friends who occasionally butt heads over a case.
At the start of THE HUNT CLUB, a federal judge and his mistress are found murdered in the judge's home office. The immediate suspect is the judge's widow, who reportedly discovered the bodies. However, Juhle's investigation reveals that the deceased judge had his fair share of enemies.
Meanwhile, Hunt finds himself attracted to, and involved with, Andrea Parisi, a beautiful and mysterious attorney who has recently become a national television celebrity. When Parisi abruptly disappears, Hunt drops everything and attempts to find her. Juhle also wants to locate Parisi, as he's discovered a possible connection between her and the late judge. As a result of this vanishing act, Parisi becomes Juhle's primary suspect. Hunt and Juhle find themselves running parallel investigations for conflicting reasons, which puts a strain on their friendship. More significantly, however, is that if Hunt is correct in his assumptions, then Parisi may be in terrible danger. So Hunt and Juhle reluctantly join forces to find Parisi --- one hoping to capture a killer, the other to save a lover.
Lescroart lets his plot unwind slowly, and while the identity of the murderer is not a total surprise, the motive is unexpected. As with his previous books, Lescroart's canny knowledge of San Francisco's lesser-known areas once again comes into play here, and his impromptu tour of the Napa Valley area is first-rate. He also takes an intriguing look into politics and influence in California, revealing the machinations that keep the wheels of commerce --- in a sense --- rolling along.
While Hunt and Juhle won't make you forget about Glitsky and Hardy, they certainly have the potential to support a series in their own right. The edgy balance and occasional conflicts between the two friends keep things interesting, and the supporting cast hopefully will show up not only in future Hardy/Glitsky installments, but in upcoming Hunt Club novels as well. Recommended.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011