The lastest novel in Ridley Pearson's 'Lou Boldt' series really isn't about Lou Boldt. Instead, the focus shifts to Daphne Matthews and John LaMoia in 'The Art of Deception'.
Matthews' personal life is a mess. She fills all her free time with police and charity work. At the novel opens, she is consummed with caring for runaway girls at a local women's shelter. She checks up on a witness as a favor to LaMoia, and suddenly finds herself being stalked not only by the witness, but by a deputy from the sheriff's office.
LaMoia, after an intervention by Boldt and Matthews, has kicked an addiction to pills. Still working for Boldt, LaMoia gets drawn into the investigation of a couple missing women assigned to his former 'Sarge'. In addition, he finds himself looking after Matthews once she starts having run-ins with the witness she interviewed.
Boldt has reluctantly taken a promotion to Lieutenant in order to fulfill a promise to his family that he would be safer on the job. However, he gets involved in a case when a family friend turns up missing. An old informant, Mama Lu, further involves him by asking him to look further into the 'accidental' drowning of an Asian man that perhaps isn't so accidental after all.
'Art of Deception' is quite possibly Pearson's best novel yet. First, the clues are easily grasped. Much more so than in previous novels. They rely less on forensic evidence, which is interesting, but at times overwhelming in past novels. Second, there are multiple suspects. Pearson introduces nearly all of them early on and keeps your attention on them. He builds a sound case for each one. Third, the setting is incredibly interesting. The Seattle Underground is almost a character in itself. With its former buildings buried under the streets of present day Seattle, it is has become a maze in the darkness and Pearson expertly uses it to create edge of the seat suspense.
The characters themselves continue to grow, which sets this series apart from those of other authors. Old problems, such as Boldt's wife's cancer, have fallen aside, and new challenges have replaced them. Daphne struggles to find meaning in her life, LaMoia re-examines his life prior to his pill addiction daily, and Boldt wrestles with conflicting feelings as his two friends and coworkers grow closer.
The list of great things about this novel goes on and on. Pearson has long been one of my favorite authors because of his mastery of the suspense novel and his extensive knowledge of the police and forensic science. He does not disappoint in 'The Art of Deception'. I would recommend this novel to any fan of suspense novels, or detective stories. It is also a great introduction into the genre.