An extortion letter arrives at Crystal Waters, one of Chicago's wealthiest gated communities. It makes no specific threats, gives no instructions, demands only that $50,000 be gotten ready---chump change for an enclave where the cheapest house is worth three million. It's easy to see it as harmless---a note from a nut.
Then a mansion explodes. The homeowners panic, and want it hushed up. If word gets out that a bomber is targeting Crystal Waters, their multimillion-dollar homes will become worthless, a last catastrophe for people strung out from living the good life too well. They hire Dek Elstrom to investigate.
Dek Elstrom used to soar high, too, when he lived with his multimillionaire wife at Crystal Waters, but that was before the dominos of his life tipped over and his ex-wife threw him out. Now reduced to living in a crumbling stone turret, bankrupt of everything but attitude, he's not even his own ideal choice for the job. He's too broke, however, to question the motives of a gift-horse client. He needs the money---and the chance to reconnect with his ex-wife.
Another bomb goes off, and Dek realizes the culprit must be someone who is angry, needs money, and used to live at Crystal Waters. Then he realizes something else. He himself is the prime suspect.
A sly and clever caper among the richest of the rich, A Safe Place for Dying is for fans of Carl Hiaasen and Robert Crais.
In an impressive debut, Fredrickson introduces Vlodek "Dek" Elstrom, an intrepid investigator of Norwegian extraction who has neared bottom with his failed marriage and battered reputation. When a $3-million home explodes at Crystal Waters, the gated Chicago community where Elstrom's ex-wife still lives and from which he was expelled, powerful Anton "the Bohemian" Chernek, an attorney who fixes problems "too thorny or embarrassing to entrust to ordinary retainers," hires Elstrom as window dressing to cover possible liability. Publicly, the explanation's a gas leak, but an extortion note suggests another cause. But the homeowners' board, fearing a drop in property values, wants the police kept out and the threat to disappear. Another threat and another explosion bring the Feds and the police anyway, and Elstrom finds himself a prime suspect while he tries to trace the roots of the case back to the construction of Crystal Waters. Smartly plotted, briskly paced and laced with humor, this accomplished first marks Fredrickson as a mystery writer to watch.