Walt Fleming and Lou Boldt, Ridley Pearson’s intrepid heroes, meet to work cases in this newest installment of the Killer series. Lou has starred in Pearson’s books for years, and the younger Walt has appeared in three previous police procedurals. This one takes place in Sun Valley, Idaho, rich in natural beauty and populated by the wealthy, famous and, in some cases, infamous.
Lou, the Seattle connection, and Walt get hooked up to solve several murders. A woman was killed in Lou’s jurisdiction, and he thinks a Sun Valley resident may be the culprit. Thus he calls upon Walt to help. Lou decides the best way to do this is to travel to Idaho and work beside his younger colleague.
As the book begins, the first sentence is a stunner: “Glancing out the windshield…Fiona [Kenshaw] spotted a log with flailing arms.” She jumps into the fast-moving water and rescues the child, thus becoming a local hero. Fiona, a police photographer, begs Walt to keep her picture from being plastered on the front pages of the local newspapers. He doesn’t succeed, and Fiona retreats into an emotional shell. She has a blackout and doesn’t remember anything during that time. From this opening, the plot moves at breakneck speed with twists and turns that could give a reader whiplash.
Suddenly, in the midst of this tension, the body of a man is found on the side of a road. He turns out to be Martel Gale, a famous ex-NFL star. Walt and Lou realize that he is the link between their two cases. Sports agent Vince Wynn and former football team owner Marty Boatwright shoot right to the top of the suspect list. But without evidence, neither Walt nor Lou can move ahead with their investigations.
Meanwhile, Walt has other problems. He is trying to cope with the break-up of his marriage and take care of his twin girls. As a cop, his time is not always his own, and he feels guilty when he has to leave his daughters with sitters or break promises to them. On top of that, a series of break-ins attributed to wild bears is cluttering his calendar.
As the investigation moves along, one prong points to Fiona. Could she be the murderer? She has a ward that she is trying to help recover from a brutal rape and beating. Kira is making great progress, but she knows her mentor’s secret. Can she remain quiet as the churning facts seem to put Fiona at risk?
IN HARM’S WAY is a suspenseful novel that challenges armchair detectives in many ways. Red herrings and real clues are scattered along the trail just begging readers to follow them to the unexpected outcome. This is a perfect beach, airplane, or vacation read.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on August 3, 2010