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Tuesday, January 24, 2017


5 stars out of 5

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." That time-honored line from Sir Walter Scott's "Marmion" kept running through my head as I read this book - a terrific standalone from the author of the popular Dismas Hardy series.

The story revolves around three married couples - Kate and Ron, Peter and Jill and Bina and Geoff. The first two didn't know each other until they meet at a dinner party at the home of the third. But just one meeting was all it took for Kate to become obsessed with Peter - leading to a one-time tryst. Kate gets what she wants and tries to move on with her life, which includes occasional long walks near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge with her old friend and police detective, Beth.

But Kate's life certainly isn't all roses and clover; she and Ron have kids to deal with, he's having a rough patch at the law firm with his partner, Geoff, and Kate continues to wrestle a bit with her dalliance. Peter and Jill have sons with attitude problems; thankfully, Peter has longtime legal secretary Theresa's shoulder to cry on. Beth is trying to manage her hectic life on the force without alienating her daughter Ginny; as a result of one investigation, she takes a young victim under her wing who then becomes fast friends with Ginny, who has a good-looking, unmarried brother Andy (no surprise where that last one is going, but it's interesting to see how it gets there).

Gradually, what's going on in the lives of all these players is revealed; clearly, all of them are dealing with "issues" of some kind. Character development is a strength here, with layers of backgrounds and feelings peeled back as the story moves along (amid plenty of action, twists and turns, I might add). 

Did I figure out whodunit? Well, yes and no - and I'll leave it at that. In conclusion, I'll note that the advance copy I received in exchange for an honest review includes a political joke that I suspect may be deleted from the post-election published version. If it is, that's too bad because it was doggone funny to me; but if it's left in, it's likely to trigger a Twitter rant from the other "side." Inquiring minds would love to know!

Fatal by John Lescroart (Atria Books, January 2017); 320 pp.

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