ROGUE WAVE follows PIOUS DECEPTION (1989) as the second Kiernan O’Shaughnessy mystery. Here the private detective is hired by Maureen Brant to find who caused the hit-and-run accident that left her artist husband brain-damaged. Before she is finished, Kiernan unmasks a woman who had been thought dead, rescues an ex-policeman from kidnappers, solves a murder, and helps prevent massive oil spills off the California coast. In the process, she learns that motives and evidence are not always what they seem.
Kiernan’s first task is to gather information about a decomposed body that has washed ashore, since Maureen Brant is convinced that the drowning victim was killed by the same person who injured her husband. Kiernan’s background as a coroner makes it possible for her to look for the right evidence and evaluate it accurately. However, her work is hampered by the acting head coroner of San Francisco, a former lover from her medical school days who left her without warning twelve years ago. Dealing with him and others proves Kiernan capable of considerable psychological insight in addition to her scientific medical expertise.
The novel is topical in its treatment of the potential disasters of offshore oil drilling, its high-tech spying devices, and its concern with the quality of life of the mentally dysfunctional. Kiernan herself is bright, tough, energetic, and successful enough to have a handsome male housekeeper who doubles as a gourmet chef. ROGUE WAVE is a winner for Susan Dunlap readers and those who follow the current crop of female private investigators.