The Barnes & Noble Review
T. Jefferson Parker's crime fiction thriller revolves around a cop with a rare neurological condition called synesthesia -- where senses become transposed (emotions are perceived as colors, smells invoke sounds, etc.). Years after being chucked out of a sixth-floor hotel window -- and barely surviving -- San Diego homicide detective Robbie Brownlaw is faced with a murder case that will not only uncover widespread corruption among the city's political elite but also force him to utilize a medical condition that up until this point has been perceived as an affliction.
At first the case of Garrett Asplundh, a former police officer in Internal Affairs who was found dead in his car near San Diego's Cabrillo Bridge, is thought to be a suicide; but Brownlaw quickly rules that out and begins digging into the man's sad and secretive past. Struggling to cope with the tragic death of his three-year-old daughter and the subsequent disintegration of his marriage, Asplundh also had to deal with the hundreds of enemies he made while working for Internal Affairs. But the closer Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez, come to unmasking the killer, the closer they come to their own untimely deaths…
Aside from the intriguing narrative element of synesthesia -- famous synesthetes include Vladimir Nabokov, Nikola Tesla, Eddie Van Halen, and Jimi Hendrix -- Parker's brilliantly realistic and sympathetic portrayal of Brownlaw as well as his subtle use of metaphor throughout make this a fascinating, fast-paced read that is virtually impossible to put down. Paul Goat Allen
At the dramatic start of Parker's excellent 13th novel (after 2004's California Girl), San Diego homicide detective Robbie Brownlaw suffers a head trauma that causes his senses to get mixed up. The sounds of conversations, for example, are accompanied by colored shapes that reflect the speakers' emotions. But the confusion turns into an asset, as it helps Brownlaw recognize when suspects and witnesses are lying to him-and he encounters lots of falsehoods when he begins investigating the case of Garrett Asplundh, shot dead while waiting for a meeting with his estranged wife. As an investigator for the San Diego Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit, Asplundh had uncovered a widespread corruption scandal-and unleashed plenty of enemies, including city officials, a financier and a purveyor of high-priced call girls. The suspense is palpable as Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez, work to identify Asplundh's killer, but the novel probes deeper mysteries, such as the victim's tragic life and Brownlaw's disintegrating marriage. With his trademark psychological acuity and empathy, Parker creates a world of fully realized characters coping with obsession and loss. The winner of two Edgars for best novel, Parker could well earn a third with this compelling effort. 6-city author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Robbie Brownlaw was an ordinary member of the San Diego Police Department until he was tossed out a sixth-floor window at the Las Palmas Hotel. His survival, and the minor celebrity status that followed, helped propel him through a series of promotions to become the youngest homicide detective on the SDPD. Garrett Asplundh was also a member of the SDPD, rising to the rank of investigator for the city's Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit. Personal tragedies haunted Asplundh and led to his apparent suicide at the same landmark bridge where he had proposed to his now-estranged wife. Brownlaw is assigned to investigate Asplundh's death and discovers that the ethics investigator had stumbled upon dirty secrets about some of the city's highest-ranking civic leaders-secrets that may have led to his murder. Parker's (Laguna Heat) 13th novel provides a nice blend of hard-boiled police procedures and an intimate look at the lives of the men and women behind the badges, although keeping up with the large cast of characters can be challenging. Recommended for most fiction collections.-Ken Bolton, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Absorbing suspense novel about a young homicide cop to whom everyone speaks in colors. Robbie Brownlaw is a synesthete. When people talk to him, he sees their voices as colored shapes: blue ovals for sincerity, yellow rhomboids for love, red squares for deception. He wasn't always this way; it happened after he was shoved out of a hotel window, falling six floors but somehow not to his death. Now he has an unerring, built-in lie detector, though it prompts a certain uneasiness that's led him to keep his gift a secret. When the dead body of high-profile cop Garrett Asplundh is discovered, however, Robbie knows he can use all the special help available. Asplundh was lead investigator for the San Diego Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit, which means it was his job to keep a watchful eye over city leadership-which means, of course, that he had ample opportunity to worry the daylights out of powerful people who, when questioned by Robbie, unleash barrages of tell-tale red squares. Then there's Stella, Asplundh's beautiful, much-adored widow, whose "black and shiny eyes" could-and did-make men behave unethically. This kind of complex, difficult case would ordinarily elicit from Robbie the single-minded attention that's made him the fast-tracker he is. At present, however, he's distracted by trouble at home. He loves his wife as much as Asplundh did Stella, but these days when he's listening to her and, more to the point, watching her as she speaks, he does not see yellow rhomboids. Deftly plotted, gracefully written and, as usual with this savvy veteran (California Girl, 2004, etc.), it's the lead character you pay your money for. Robbie is another in Parker's growing gallery of wonderfullysympathetic heroes.
“An entirely engrossing and unforgettable tale.”
“A good story well told by a gifted writer at the top of his game.”
“(Parker) writes with intelligence, style and sensitivity, and he belongs…in the first rank of American crime novelists.”
“A wonderful story with compassionate characters, plenty of action, thoughtful deduction and a shocking rationale for murder.”
“T. Jefferson Parker could well be the best crime writer working out of Southern California.”
“Lively well-paced writing.…A cut above the average mystery fare.”
“Parker’s best to date.…Very highly recommended.”
“Smart and thrilling...Parker has imagination to burn...Crisp and elegant sentences keep the pages turning.”
“Delivers on all levels, as a mystery and a study of the depths of cruelty to which people can sink.”