Beautiful divorcee Gemma Ralston, stabbed and parazlyzed, dies a horrible death in the Arizona desert. Teenager A.J. Sanders - looking for buried treasure as instructed in a secret letter from his ex-convict, absentee father - happens to be on hand at the end of Gemma's life. The teen texts for help then flees the scene of the crime.
Turns out Gemma was the grasping, money-hungry ex-wife of Alzheimer expert Dr. Chip Ralston, and Chip and his new girlfriend Lynn Martinson are arrested for murder. Soon afterward the body of A.J.'s dad, James Sanders, is found in the desert. Are the crimes connected? Police detectives investigate as does journalist/amateur detective Ali Reynolds. Ali soon discovers that ex-con James Sanders, a low-salary handyman, had been throwing around a lot of money lately. Did this lead to his death?
Familiar series characters make an appearance, including Ali's mom, boyfriend, cop friends, and computer hacker Stuart Ramey. To me, extensive scenes of Stuart's data mining and illicit hacking are boring but computer nerds may enjoy them. Ali carries on questioning persons of interest, has her life threatened by dangerous bad guys, and eventually solves the crime. This is an okay escapist mystery.