Sandford hasn’t lost his touch, though crime novels have changed considerably with the advances of technology. Here the author mixes a healthy dose of murder, mayhem and eccentric characterization in a thriller about a massive bank theft via computer, the human touch still relevant amid the technological details—in other words, a little something for everyone.
It begins with a mass murder, a horrific bloodbath in a quiet home down a secluded lane: an entire family is massacred by killers who torture parents and children before leaving the scene. Shockwaves hit the Twin Cities as Lucas Davenport of the Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension calls out the troops in an investigation that leads from one nightmarish tableau to another, on the trail of three young killers imported from Mexico to do the bidding of a powerful cartel. Even the DEA gets involved, as well as two agents sent to monitor the progress of the investigation for their superiors in Mexico.
The second phase of the mystery concerns the motivation for the slaughter of the family. Davenport and his agents suspect a well-planned, meticulous theft from a local bank done through its computer system is behind the carnage. He calls on a specialist he met when designing the computer games that made his private fortune, a lady known in the tech community as ICE, who begins the slow process of examining the system for the precise methods of the person behind the removal of the funds, not to mention where the money has gone. Technology has made moving large amounts of money more difficult to hide from authorities, creating the need for a network of channels to avoid triggering analysts alert for any system irregularities.
While the highly skilled ICE does her thing, the majority of Davenport’s agents are engaged in the manhunt for the killers, an elusive trio who seem remarkably well-informed and able to move about without detection, changing vehicles and hideouts, possibly with information provided by an insider. Eventually, the investigation focuses on three bank employees who work together, each so eccentric and quirky that they are never truly suspects, especially when all three become the targets of the assassins.
Staying barely one step ahead of the murderers while burrowing further into the bank’s systemic weaknesses, Lucas is hard-pressed to come up with a logical scenario for the spate of recent violence, although all agree that there is a way to translate the numbers into real money. Meanwhile, Davenport has BCA Agent Virgil Flowers working on another investigation, an intense search for two criminals who assaulted Davenport outside an ATM and stole his cash, leaving him with a broken wrist, yet another aggravation and one he takes personally.
By the final chapter, the action is fast and furious, all the pieces coming together with unexpected synchronicity as Davenport’s agents stumble upon the formula for turning the money into a movable commodity, hot on the trail of the hired killers. But even Lucas can’t anticipate the wild shootout that puts his nearest and dearest at risk as the frustrated killers make one last desperate stand. The bank theft may be white collar, but the damage it leaves is blood red.