Dr. Samantha (“Sam”) Owens has begun an entirely new phase of her life as a first-year medical school professor in the forensic pathology department at Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C., quite a departure from her former position as Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Tennessee. She has chosen her new job despite having been offered one as special consultant for the FBI, not without misgivings, although this time around she is acting in just that capacity at the behest of her friend, John Baldwin. Sam has been working on a cold case, a series of killings over a 20-year-period which seem to have no connection except that each female victim was from the same hometown of New Orleans, dubbed the Hometown Killer. As the title suggests, the challenge is to find “what lies behind” all the violence.
As in the prior series entries, the book is replete with fascinating and well-drawn characters in Sam’s life, both professional and personal. As the book opens, her “newly-minted homicide detective” friend, Darren Fletcher, asks her to look over the evidence at what is at first blush thought to be a murder/suicide, a crime of passion. What at first seems a “simple case of domestic dispute had turned into an international intrigue and a possible bioterror attack in less than twelve hours.” The body count rises, and very quickly. As the title suggests, the challenge is to find “what lies behind” all the violence. Then there is her boyfriend, Xander Whitfield, “a man who has carried a gun by his side day and night for over 18 years,” now on assignment as a close protection detail with his partner, nickname “Chalk,” both quite expert at what they do, which very early on in the job calls upon Xander to shoot and kill an assassin who appears ready to kill their client (“a world leader in oil and gas, mining and the like) as he disembarks from a plane at a New Jersey airport. There are different story lines presented, all of which seem to converge towards the end of the novel.
I loved the reference to the author’s other series protagonist, Taylor Jackson, a homicide lieutenant in Nashville engaged to the aforementioned John Baldwin. The novel is well-written, with the story taking place over little more than a day, just about the time it took me to read this intriguing, fast-paced tale. Recommended....Continua