Fortunes of the Dead

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

If you have not yet discovered Lena Padget, private investigator/crime-fighter/heroine, reading this book will make you want to read the earlier volumes in the series. Her special interest is in aiding women and children who are slipping, unprotected, through the cracks of the legal system. Naturally she is interested when Miranda Dunkirk begs her to investigate the disappearance of her sister Cheryl, an intern with Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Lena’s acceptance of the case is complicated, though, by the fact that her lover, homicide detective Joel Mendez, has for two months been investigating the same case. While he suspects Cheryl is dead, he has no proof and is stymied as to who killed her and where her body might be found. Joel does not take kindly to having Lena investigate the same case and possibly mess up the evidence—or succeed where he has failed. Even though they have just bought a house and are scheduled to move in together in two days, Joel pulls away from Lena to stew while Lena delves deeper into the case.

Meanwhile, Wilson McCoy of the Los Angeles branch of ATF enters the picture as he tracks an assassin named Rodeo, known to be targeting ATF and FBI agents who were involved in the attack of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. No one has information on the elusive Rodeo, including knowing whether the person is male or female. The killings step up in frequency, accompanied by chilling Internet radio broadcasts reporting details of the kill immediately after each one occurs. Lena’s, Joel’s, and Wilson’s paths inevitably intertwine in the suspense-filled ending.