Top critical review
Worth reading, but the weakest of the series
on January 27, 2001
Like all Laurie King's books so far, this one is worth reading, but I thought it was the weakest of the lot. One reason is the depiction of Roz, a central character. She is something close to a cult leader: arrogant, manipulative, and irresponsible. She is also supposed to be charming and charismatic, but that does not come through adequately in the book, leaving this reader, at least, puzzled as to why other people, including Kate Martinelli, the protagonist, like and admire her.
A further problem is that the solution to the killings of the Indian bride and her husband leaves too many loose threads; the reader cannot tell what parts of the chain of events that lead to the killing were part of the plot. The motive, while suggested, is never entirely clear. And at least some of the evidence that distracts the reader from the correct solution depends on a coincidence.
One final point links to the previous book, where Jules, the precocious stepdaughter of Kate's partner, is kidnapped by her biological father while travelling with Kate. Jules' mother (Jani) apparently suspects Kate, at least initially, of having arranged the kidnapping herself (Kate is a lesbian, although her friendship with Jules is entirely non-sexual), and clearly blames her for it. In the resolution it becomes clear not only that Kate is not at fault but that Jani is; the father would have been the obvious suspect if Jani hadn't pretended that he was dead and maintained the pretence even after the kidnapping, thus seriously hampering the efforts, largely by Kate, to locate the kidnapped girl. In this book we are told that both Kate and Jani continue to blame Kate for the kidnapping, which seems to make very little sense.