Chain of Evidence

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

CHAIN OF EVIDENCE once again displays Pearson’s knowledge of forensic medicine, that branch of the medical field that deals with police investigation. The novel features Lieutenant Joe “Dart” Dartelli of the Hartford, Connecticut, Police Department. He is beginning to suspect that the suicides he and his colleagues are investigating are really murders; he is also afraid he knows who is behind them. Only one person, Dart’s old mentor Walter Zeller, is capable of creating—or re- creating—the crime scenes to make it look as if these sex offenders have done away with themselves. Oddly enough, Zeller retired and disappeared after his wife was murdered by a serial rapist.

That Pearson lays out his cards so early and yet manages to hold his readers’ attention is testimony to his command of arcane detail and his sense of drama. When Dart identifies Zeller’s suspected liar and arranges to have an Emergency Response Team raid the house one night in a scientifically orchestrated sweep for evidence, even the most jaded of readers will be hooked. Even when readers know the “who” and think they know the “what,” the “how” remains a maze that Pearson guides them through step by surprising step.

Pearson clearly keeps up with police procedure, and in CHAIN OF EVIDENCE mixes in expertise on computer technology and sex therapy. On the other hand, his characters show minimal development, and the truncated feel of the opening chapters suggests that his latest novel may be scaled back from a longer, more ambitious work. Pearson recently won the Raymond Chandler Fulbright scholarship to Oxford University, and here shows signs of impatience with a genre that he may already have exhausted.