Book Review: The Hand of Fate
Written by Liz Wiehl and April Henry
Reviewed by Nike Chillemi –
The Hand of Fate is the second in the Triple Threat series. While I enjoyed the first book, Face of Betrayal, to my mind, the second book is better. Perhaps the authors simply hit their stride. The three main female characters are stronger and more developed in this book.
I love talk radio and this book catches the immediacy of the medium. Abrasive, opinionated, and self-centered, popular Portland talk-show host Jim Fate receives an envelope at the station and when he opens it, a powdery substance sprays in his face (possibly sarin), shortly thereafter killing him.
The members of the Triple Threat Club put their heads together to solve the broadcaster’s murder. Allison Pierce, a federal prosecutor, happily married and at the beginning of her first pregnancy, who is also a practicing Christian. Nicole Hedges, the FBI special agent who is the lead on this case is a single mother, was brought up Christian, but is now an agnostic. Cassidy Shaw, a popular crime beat TV reporter feels she’s aging, is abusing prescribed sleep meds, has a tendency to hop from bed to bed, and had a relationship with the victim she’s trying to hide.
At first this appears to be a terrorist attack on the entire city, as sarin is that deadly. The downtown area is evacuated and there are injuries, heart attacks, and several deaths as result of the general evacuation. The pregnant Allison finds a tiny Hispanic girl who’s been separated from her mother and carries the child several miles to safety. After several hours of panic, medical personnel determine the substance is not sarin and the city is safe. Now the Triple Threat Club swing into action to find out who killed Jim Fate.
Fate, a combative, right wing, shock-jock, who we learn about posthumously, is a fascinating character. As the three women investigators look at the suspect list, they realize a shorter list would be one with people who liked the man.
Christian characters in this novel pray and seek solace in God, but the book is not preachy nor is there any heavy theology. A question that pops up in the last book is answered here. Why Nicole turned her back on God. While the novel is not too graphic, this is one of the scariest and most brutal parts of the book, which I can’t go into as it would be a huge spoiler. Cassidy continues to do stupid stuff, like combining a sleep aid with alcohol and falling asleep in a bathtub full of water — and her friends, like in the first novel, find they must rescue her…literally.
The identity of the murderer comes as a total surprise, as does the motive for the murder. One of the seemingly normal, career driven characters has an agenda, and well hidden underlying emotional issues.
I recommend Hand of Fate to murder mystery readers who enjoy novels that utilize contemporary, topical themes as sub-plots and back-story.