I requested a galley of this book because it sounded interesting and because it was described as a standalone novel. As soon as I began reading, it became clear this is part of a series. There are repeated references to earlier cases involving Altair. Much backstory is missing. For instance, we are told that Altair has adopted an adult daughter Adi, and that’s all we are told. There’s obviously much more to the story. The ending also indicates that there will be at least one more book in the series. I detest such false advertising.
Altair has a coterie of very loyal colleagues who hold Altair in high esteem. The problem is that, because the book does not show how her relationship with these people developed, their loyalty seems unfounded. Why are they so unquestioningly trusting? There is a similar issue with Subject 037, a non-criminal psychopath that was a subject in a research project. All we know is that he is fixated on Altair for some reason. Why? What transpired during the research?
Altair is the strong female lead, but sometimes her reactions are unbelievable. Considering what she loses in a fire, she has so little reaction? More than once, reference is made to her reputation but, again, we are only told about this reputation. She has supposedly earned this reputation because of previous cases, but simply being told does not totally convince this reader. Her continuing to work while injured is a tad much.
The book definitely reminded me of an episode of Criminal Minds with some elements of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. But I hated the chapter titles which are just indications of location like “Tino’s Apartment, Alexandria, VA” and “Andrew Mellon Memorial Fountain, Washington, D.C.” “Road to Hearing Voices Institute, Great Falls, VA” is followed by “Dr. Lilenhammer’s Office, The Hearing Voices Institute, Great Falls, VA.”
The plot is rather far-fetched. How many people can fake their deaths? Charred bones left after an IED attack are “autopsied and found to be consistent with” those of the sole occupant of the vehicle? Wouldn’t DNA be used to identify remains? The military would give glowing reports about someone “who has a fairly gray line between right and wrong” and who causes “unexpected collateral damage”? After one murder, Altair concludes that a serial killer is responsible: “’The lack of sexual element, the lack of anger, and the clear preplanning of the body dump, coupled with the intensely ritualized aspect of the victim display suggest the possibility of a serial killer’”? Altair is supposedly an expert but wouldn’t an expert be more cautious in drawing such a conclusion on the basis of one death? Towards the end, a character somehow informs two people about the whereabouts of various other people when there is no time when he is alone to do so?
There is a lot of suspense and the book, with its short chapters, is a quick read. I would however strongly recommend that people read the first two books in the series. Convincing development of character and relationships is missing. The reader must also be prepared to suspend some disbelief.
Note: I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley.