Steve was dead. There was a penny-sized bullet hole in the back of his neck, about an inch above the knob. I moved over and touched the woman, and when I got no reaction, lifted the blonde hair up and out of her coat collar. And saw the same thing. Her shoulders and head moved to the right and rested against the glass of her door's window.Out of standard PI loyalty, Chess Hanrahan begins investigating the murder of his pal, Steve, who had taken on a case that Chess had passed on to him. The cops try to dissuade Chess with evidence of a paperclip sculpture found at both his friend's murder scene and a similar 'calling card' at a double-murder elsewhere in town, theorizing a serial killer is loose and Steve was the victim of random violence which had nothing to do with the case Steve was working on. Chess quickly learns there is more to the situation than meets the eye.
Any detective book that begins with an Edith Hamilton quote is likely to be far from standard and, thankfully, PRESENCE OF MIND shakes it up with political parley between the USSR and US (the novel takes place in the late 1980s), connections to the Korean War, and the trail of Soviet agents hell-bent on seizing a little known computer company.
Mr. Cline's writing is sharp and lyrical in refreshing ways for a genre that is getting drier and drier. I intend to read each Chess Hanrahan novel that is released. Recommended.
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