Tasia McFarland is a washed-up country-pop singer desperate for the break that will get her topping the charts again. The tabloids have raked over every part of Tasia’s rocky life, following every high and low—her addictions, her breakdowns, her increasingly erratic behavior—and every broken relationship. The highlight of this lowlight reel: Tasia McFarland is the ex-wife of the president of the United States.
So when Tasia writes a song with politically charged lyrics, people take note and her star begins to rise anew. In the opener of her comeback tour, she is lowered into a stadium on a zip line, and as helicopters fly overhead, she fires her prop Colt .45 at the fireworks-filled stage. Tasia is riding high.
Until she’s killed by a bullet to the neck before the shocked crowd of forty thousand.
When video can’t prove that the shot came from Tasia’s own Colt .45, and the ballistics report comes up empty, the authorities call on forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett to do a psychological autopsy and clean up the potential political disaster. But as Jo sifts through the facts, she only finds more questions: Was Tasia’s gun loaded? Did she kill herself in one last cry for attention? Were her politically charged lyrics the rantings of a paranoid woman losing her grip, or warnings from a woman afraid and in danger? For Jo, pouring over Tasia’s past becomes a race to extinguish the conspiracy rumor mill before it incites a level of violence that reaches America’s highest corridors of power—and tears apart the very fabric of our nation.
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"The third Jo Beckett book was the last one I hadn't read of the Meg Gardiner books we currently have (which is everything except The Nightmare Thief, which just came out). It's clear to me that Meg is at the height of her storytelling power. There's no fat in the book, and it definitely has the trademark slam-bang final sequence. At first, I was a little put off by the premise as it starts with the death of the President's ex-wife, who is a big singing star. It seemed a bit far-fetched or contrived, but ultimately the story she is telling is a well-written thriller with a great, believable protagonist. Jo Beckett is an interesting, rich character who gives the readers a sympathetic figure to follow through the exciting events of the plot. It amazing to me that none of Meg's books has yet been made into movies. They seem like perfect Hollywood fodder for a big Summer feature and would certainly be more enjoyable than dreck like the Transformers series."
Kurt (5 out of 5 stars)