In this one, Terry McCaleb, who also appears in A Darkness More than Night, has just had his heart transplant, and is approached by the sister of the person who, it turns out, was the donor, and was murdered. The police seem to have dismissed the murder motive as simple robbery, and seem to have given up hope of tracking the perpetrator, but the sister wants McCaleb to use his investigative skills to bring the killer to justice.
The events in this book take place before those in A Darkness More than Night - in that book there was mention made of the anti-rejection drugs that McCaleb kept having to take, but it was not a major theme of the book. But here, the transplant is the motivation for McCaleb's interest in the case: initially disinclined to get involved with any criminal investigation, he soon comes to feel that he has a debt to his donor that he can't ignore.
And it was a pretty good story. Obviously there turns out to be more to the murder than initially meets the eye, and the way that the inconsistencies and extra pieces of information are uncovered is plausible and well paced. There were various red herrings along the way, and although I was distracted from spotting the identity of the killer until McCaleb worked it out himself, the revelation wasn't a let-down and was in keeping with the way the crime had been set up.
As in the other books, there is quite often reference made to "previous" investigations, including The Poet. In the case of The Poet, I knew how the case had been resolved, but since I've not read all his other books, I wasn't sure how much attention needed paying to the mentions made of other criminals McCaleb had in the past been involved in chasing, in case it turned out that it was relevant to this story. This was a good thing though; it made the world feel more real, and made me pay attention.
We only understand the killer's PoV through what the he/she says to McCaleb: there's no first-person account from him/her - unlike in The Poet. And in this case, the killer seems to have a relatively (in the context of this type of book) coherent motive for what he/she does. Also, unlike the Poet, the end-game section where the killer is finally cornered works reasonably well (I think there's almost always a bit of a let-down in these scenes, but this was OK).
So altogether a pretty good book. I think there are more with McCaleb so I'll be looking out for them.
Completed : 11-Apr-2008