Whenever the word Aphrodite is whispered somebody dies. The victims never know what it meant: is it a person, a product, a code word - what? And why is keeping its meaning secret, so important?
Justin Westwood has retreated from reality by taking a menial post with the police department in Long Island. Mindless traffic duty and a lot of booze stop him reliving the past, but his dormant professionalism is reluctantly awakened when he realises that the death of a young journalist is deliberate, not accidental.
Retracing the woman's movements in the hours before her death, Justin learns she's been in trouble for quoting some erroneous facts in an obituary of a man who had been living in the local old people's home. Not the sort of mistake which normally brings a duo of professional hitmen to the door of a fallible reporter, and certainly not one which brings the FBI into town.
As Justin attempts to unravel the puzzle, he finds someone is a step ahead of him, disposing of witnesses and setting him up for the rap. Realising he has to face real life at its starkest if he is to survive, he goes solo - and finds himself at the centre of one of the greatest conspiracies of his time.
Praise for Russell Andrews
'A fast moving thriller in the Grisham genre' Sunday Telegraph
'I defy you to figure out who dunnit, why they dunnit, or how they dunnit' Janet Evanovich
Robert Ludlum meets Dashiell Hammett in this gripping, wildly plotted thriller by the author of Gideon and Icarus. In the sleepy town of East End, New York, former homicide cop Justin Westwood is trying to escape the tragedy of his past by consuming scotch and writing traffic tickets for the local police department. The murder of a young reporter (disguised as an accident), however, catapults him out of his stasis and into a complicated investigation. A terrified witness tells of a blond killer, whom readers first met in the book's opening pages murdering another young woman. As Justin investigates, it seems that the police and the FBI are always one step ahead of him, and that folks with any connection to the case start turning up dead. Signs point to a sinister fountain-of-youth project run by a mysterious, all-powerful cabal, which the reporter had accidentally uncovered. If Westwood penetrates the secrets of the Aphrodite program, he's sure to be their next victim. A smalltown cop does battle with a great conspiracy: the plot may sound conventional, even hackneyed, but Andrews sustains white-hot tension throughout, bolstered by enough surprises and body blows to satisfy even a hardened mystery/conspiracy buff. The suspense flags slightly at midpoint, but elsewhere the pace is fast, the dialogue sharp, the characters skillfully drawn and the familiar, heady whodunit action cleverly handled.