In this “spellbinding and totally original thriller” (Philipp Meyer, author of The Son) a lonely veteran’s gruesome discovery throws him right into the face of danger as a twisted investigation unravels the secrets of his dark past.
One early morning on a Norfolk beach in Virginia, a dead body is discovered by a man taking his daily swim—Arman Bajalan, formerly an interpreter in Iraq. After narrowly surviving an assassination attempt that killed his wife and child, Arman has been given lonely sanctuary in the US as a maintenance worker at the Sea Breeze Motel. Now, convinced that the body is connected to his past, he knows he is still not safe.
Seasoned detective Catherine Wheel and her newly minted partner have little to go on beyond a bus ticket in the dead man’s pocket. It leads them to Sally Ewell, a local journalist as grief-stricken as Arman is by the Iraq War, who is investigating a corporation on the cusp of landing a multi-billion-dollar government defense contract.
As victims mount around Arman, taking the team down wrong turns and towards startling evidence, they find themselves in a race, committed to unraveling the truth and keeping Arman alive—even if it costs them absolutely everything.
In this uneven but eminently readable crime thriller from Powers (The Yellow Birds), Norfolk, Va., detective Catherine Wheel is called in to investigate after Iraq war interpreter-turned-janitor Arman Bajalan discovers a dead body during an early-morning ocean swim. Catherine and her partner soon learn that Arman knew the victim during his time in Iraq, and is in the U.S. to seek refuge from a group that has already killed the rest of his family. As more bodies pile up and the investigation leads Wheel to a local journalist, the detective makes it her mission to protect Arman, who it appears might be the ultimate target. Powers generates a satisfying sense of suspense, and his strength lies in drawing fully realized characters, from the protagonists down to the support players. The prose, though, varies, ranging from refined to purple and unnatural ("Salus populi suprema lex esto," proclaims one character, conveniently recalling a slice of high school Latin). Still, this is an enjoyable outing that will have readers hoping for future Wheel adventures.