In a plot that uses still-living facets of the recent housing crash as a jumping-off point, Jane Ryland returns in this newest entry in the wonderful series by Hank Phillippi Ryan. After having been an award-winning investigative TV reporter before she lost her job a year ago for refusing to give up a source, Jane is now working as a reporter for the new online video news department of the Boston Register. That job remains somewhat tenuous in today’s endangered world of print newspapers. The opening pages find Jane at the site of a foreclosed house in the course of researching the housing crisis and the forced evictions of the mostly middle-class homeowners when, bizarrely, a woman’s dead body is found inside the house.
But things become much more complicated, as we learn much more than we ever wanted to about REOs (“real estate owned” properties), which have become a huge business for banks and the real estate agents with whom they work, and those who work the system for their own profit. Liz McDivitt, magna cum laude MBA, is the first Customer Affairs Liaison for the bank for which she works, of which her father happens to be president. She has developed her own plan for helping those who have fallen into the desperate position of having their homes foreclosed, despite its illegality. She has told no one about it, not even Aaron, who handles the bank’s foreclosed properties, who she has started seeing socially, and who has his own secrets.
A second story line has a man, Gordon Thorley, coming into the police station to confess to a notorious crime committed almost twenty years ago. Detective Jake Brogan, one of the cops hearing his story, does not believe it. That killing, of a 17-year-old girl, had haunted Jake’s grandfather, the then Police Commissioner, up to his dying day, and it is very personal for Jake, 14 years old at the time, who is determined to find out the truth. The reader enters a bizarre world of false confessions, whether manipulated, coerced, or the product of a disturbed mind. The tale unfolds over the course of only several days, with p.o.v. alternating from Jane and Jake’s worlds as well as Liz and Aaron as well as Peter Hardesty, attorney extraordinaire, and Gordon Thorley, who was either a liar or a murderer.
Jane is still somewhat ambivalent about her romantic involvement with Jake, given the unwritten rule that one should not be ‘involved’ with a source, which Jake certainly is and has been, their respective professional obligations a constant challenge.
We are told that though “nothing mattered except what was true,” it is also the case that “sometimes you had to lie to get to the truth.” The plot is so convincing that one can only hope, as one continues quickly turning the pages, that this not an instance where “fiction is indeed the lie that tells the truth.” Another excellent entry in the series, and one which is recommended.