A wave of babynappings has terrified parents from San Diego to Portland. And when the Pied Piper--named for the penny flute he leaves in the cribs of his victims--claims his first Seattle infant, the investigation draws in homicide detective Lou Boldt. Assigned temporarily to Intelligence so he can spend more time with his kids while his wife is hospitalized for chemotherapy, Boldt's role is to keep the FBI out of the Seattle Police Department's way.
But FBI special agent Gary Flemming is a tough adversary--so tough it almost seems as if he's intentionally sabotaging the SPD's investigation. Then the Pied Piper snatches Boldt's own daughter, promising that unless Boldt throws both the Feds and the SPD off his trail he'll never see his child again. Caught between his professional obligations and his fear for Sarah's life, Boldt launches his own private manhunt with the help of John La Moia, his replacement in homicide, and police psychologist Daphne Matthews, his closest friend in the department.
They form a sub rosa task force under the noses of the Feds and the SPD, and soon discover how the Piper has managed to stay a step ahead of the police, elude capture, and find his small victims. The chase moves from Seattle to Portland to New Orleans, culminating in a thrilling denouement in the daffodil fields of Washington's Skagit Valley. Combining strong characterizations with an impressive command of both policing and pacing, Ridley Pearson, author of Chain of Evidence and Beyond Recognition, delivers another sure winner in this outing for Lou Boldt. --Jane Adams