A pathologist and an actor with a facial disfigurement get together and each agrees to murder someone that the other wants dead, as in "Strangers on a Train". Unfortunately, the first victim, the pathologist's wife, had her lover in the house at the time and he is left as a witness (albeit one who doesn't come forward to the police). Lucas Davenport is brought in to investigate, and the race is on to find out who the witness is before the killers do.
Both killers have abnormal character traits: in the case of the pathologist, its a morbid terror that the eyes of the dead will watch over him after they're dead, and so he insists that all the murder victims have their eyes mutilated. Then the actor kills someone and forgets about the eyes.
This took a while to get going but was another great read. Exciting, tense, thrilling and funny. Sandford has a technique of story telling in which he'll talk through a particular set of events from one person's point of view, then retell the same scene from the point of view of someone else. As well as giving you a better picture of what's happening, and explaining people's behaviour, it has scope for ironical humour as we understand what's going on better than the protagonists. Especially funny was the section at the end where Lucas dressed up as the actor and allowed himself to be glimpsed by the pathologist in order to scare him into doing something stupid.
The book didn't exactly play as I'd expected, with certain people dying who I thought would get saved, and, what particularly impressed me, certain clues that I picked up on being missed by the detectives. E.g. at one stage a comment is made that the actor has a gift for putting on accents, and you think "aha, I bet that'll be one of the things that tips off the police that it was him that made the phone call". But no, it's never mentioned again in the whole book. In nearly all other books of this type that I've read, you never get clues dropped in like that which aren't later brought up in the final explanation of whodunnit. The fact that Sandford can do this means that you're kept guessing just that bit more about what's going to happen.
Read again in May 2012:
The Davenport in this book is quite a bit more interesting as a character than in the later books: he's subject to severe depression and so is driven here by a need to focus on the case in order to avoid falling back into the black pit.
I was struck by how involved I felt with the characters: at one point, the reader knows that someone close to Lucas is dead, and we follow Lucas' progress as he drives through the town on the way to seeing them. I realised that I was thinking "oh no, he's going to take this really badly - poor Lucas".
Read again in Apr 2014:
This is when I'm reading them all in sequence: I don't think I'd usually read a book twice in a two year period. But although the story was still fairly familiar, it was still great.
This I think was the first time that Capslock and Sloane are mentioned, and explains why Lucas leaves the police department. I was a bit surprised that there's no mention of Lily, who has a fairly significant role in the previous book. There is brief allusion to the Crows from Shadow Prey.
There does seem to be a lot going on in this book - it's got a pretty rich plot compared to the later ones, which I think are a bit more linear and straightforward. This one has Lucas+Cassie, Cruz, Lucas' depression, artwork, Loverboy, Becker...
Completed : 09-Nov-2005 (audiobook, read by Richard Ferrone)
Completed : 11-May-2012 (audiobook, read by Richard Ferrone)
Completed : 23-Apr-2014 (audiobook, read by Richard Ferrone)