Jake Reese, a university writing teacher, has a past that he's trying desperately to hide. He's been successful so far, but one night, he's taken down outside a bar and his finger is lopped off. Although they take his finger and the wedding ring still attached to it, he gets them back in the mail. Strange. And frightening as well.
With a case file holding reports of assault and battery, disturbing the peace, and assault with a deadly (brick) weapon, Jake is not your everyday run-of-the-mill innocent. Diane, an art buyer and his wife of one month, heads off to Arizona to meet with a client and to clear her head. Or so she says.
His two attackers show up one day at the university. Jake takes his wife's advice and calls the police, but they arrive too late. To make matters worse, Diane disappears by the time he gets home, only to be found dead in a traffic accident.
The police haven't been much help, so he decides to take matters into his own hands. He calls Gabby Meyers, owner of Gabriel's Custom Wood Furniture, who had taken Jake in when his father died. Gabby comes through, presenting him with his two assailants. Some answers are forthcoming, but oh boy, are they disturbing, leading only to more questions.
Things get really ugly from there.
Lisa Bishop, a Sedona, Arizona, psychic whom Diane went to see, knows something but won't talk; so Jake pays her a visit. Impatient, impulsive and impetuous, all he does is step deeper into Diane's past and into a big surprise. He just complicates things and makes matters worse.
Jake is just so gosh darned naive, is all.
Red herrings and dead-ends galore had me guessing a lot, and coming up with nothing. Unfortunately, that meant the conclusion isn't as exciting as it might have been. The climax was good, but the denouement took much too long to close out the story.
Thomas & Mercer (Paperback $14.95 list)