Born and raised in southern Oregon farm country, Elie Spaneker flees her home and abusive husband, unaware she’s being tracked by an ex-cop in the hire of her vengeful father-in-law.
In Portland, retired homicide detective Skin Kadash fills his idle days drinking coffee and searching for Eager Gillespie, a teen runaway of special interest as the only witness in a troublesome and long unsolved murder. Eager, meanwhile, is on his own, grifting and working the angles in the homeless underground, oblivious to the unfolding events which will force him to face the consequences of a crime, and a longing, which has haunted him for years.
These disparate trails converge at a bloody standoff, the harrowing end of a series of brutal crimes which trace a path from the high desert to the streets of Portland, committed by a perpetrator known only as Shadow.
Set in Portland, Ore., Cameron s richly flavored if contrived third crime novel opens with what looks like a familiar urban domestic crisis. But when battered ex-cop Skin Kadash, last seen in Chasing Smoke (2008), scans the crowd gathered outside the house in his neighborhood where a man supposedly has gone berserk and pulled a gun on his family, Skin recognizes the teenage skateboarder who was the sole witness to an unsolved Jane Doe murder a few years before and so begins wondering whether the two outbursts of violence could be related. Like Skin, readers may become obsessed with making unlikely connections, as the book offers a montage of narrative fragments from different times and viewpoints, interspersed with objective but semi-informed newspaper reports. The characters operatically intense passions are powerful, but the extreme coincidences underlying the plot weaken the overall impact.