John Lescroart has said that he wanted to create a detective looking for a sense of direction. In other words, the detective’s involvement in crime solving is inseparable from his maturation as a man. Dismas Hardy was the result: a man who has had several careers and is troubled about how to maintain a well-rounded family life. Hardy needs help and finds it in the form of Abe Glitsky, a homicide detective whose major failing is that he is all too sure about himself and his cases. In other words the two men need each other—Hardy supplying the doubt, Glitsky the confidence. Unlike in earlier two-man detective teams (Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin), there is no master/mentor relationship. Hardy solves crimes by asking endless questions while keeping his theories of what happened open to constant revision, whereas Glitsky tends to press his perception of what happened and who did it until all the facts fit or he has to start again with a different set of premises.
Thus this unusual duo upsets the conventional format of the crime story, allowing Lescroart to combine the police procedural (Glitsky) with the legal thriller (Hardy). The friendship of Hardy and Glitsky—in spite of the conflicting roles of defense attorney and homicide detective—injects a level of intensity and complexity that is unusual in crime fiction.