Kate and Ron Jameson are happily married with two savvy teenagers and a nice house in San Francisco. Things take a turn, however, after a dinner party hosted by Ron's law partner, Geoff Cooke. At the party, Kate meets attorney Peter Ash and develops an insatiable desire to have sex with him. Without mentioning Peter's name Kate confides her obsession to her best friend, Beth Tully - who happens to be an SFPD detective - and is advised to forget about the man.
Against Beth's advice - and her own better judgement - Kate tricks Peter into meeting her in a hotel room, then brazenly seduces him. Afterwards, Kate immediately wants to end things. Having got Peter out of her system, Kate blithely feels she can go on with her life as it was before. For his part, Peter, who has a wife and twin teenage sons, seems to have an existential crisis after the affair. He takes to drinking and womanizing....and seems to lose interest in his marriage and job.
A couple of weeks after 'the affair' Kate and Beth are having coffee at the Ferry Building Marketplace when terrorists barge in and shoot the place up. The two women are seriously injured: Kate is shot in both legs and Kate sustains dire chest injuries, but both women slowly recover.
Six months after the terror shooting, Beth - who's still limping - gets a new case. She and her partner, Detective Ike McCaffrey, are assigned to investigate the homicide of Peter Ash - who was found floating in San Francisco Bay. Of course Beth doesn't know about Kate's previous liasion with Peter......yet.
The investigators talk to Peter's wife, sons, secretary, colleagues, friends, and so on. And Geoff Cooke - who considers himself Peter's best buddy - offers to assist in any way he can. More deaths occur, and the detectives have plenty of suspects to consider.
In a side story, Beth and her daughter Ginny befriend an anorexic young woman named Laurie, who fell into despair after her married lover was killed.
Eventually Beth and Ike discover who did what. For me, the ending wasn't completely satisfying.....but that's all I can say without spoilers.
This standalone novel isn't as good as John Lescroart's 'Dismas Hardy' series. The plot of 'Fatal' feels a little raw and some of the characters aren't believable. For instance, Kate's sudden obsession for Peter doesn't ring true. I expected to discover she'd been hypnotized or drugged - and given a 'post-hypnotic suggestion' to have sex with Peter (but apparently not). I also think a 'nice woman' like Kate would consider the consequences of seducing a married man - and possibly ruining his life.....but she doesn't give this a second thought.
When it comes to Peter, it's unlikely that a sensible, hard-working guy like him would change so dramatically after one sexual encounter. Peter's a grown man, not a hormone-driven teenage boy.
I also have a quibble about the anorexic girl, Laurie. Anorexia is a serious condition, and anorexics don't suddently start eating just because a new friend brings over a tasty meal. This plot point doesn't seem well thought out.
As I was reading, I thought this might be an early Lescroart book, being published now to make a few bucks. However - in the acknowledgements - Lescroart says he recently wrote the book, so that's not the case. Maybe it's just a new 'Beth Tully' series that's getting off to a bit of a rough start.
All in all, this is an okay mystery. If you're a suspense fan who's planning a vacation or plane trip, this book would provide suitable company.
Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book.
Rating: 3 stars