Written by Meg Gardiner

Review written by Maureen Carlyle

Hodder & Stoughton
RRP: £6.99
Released: 16th October 2008

This is one of those novels that as an action movie would probably be terrific.  But purely as a novel I find the plot predictable (although it has to be admitted it does have a few good twists) and the characters typical Hollywood stereotypes.  Not the monkey, though.  The monkey’s great.


Jo Beckett is a forensic psychiatrist, who doesn’t examine bodies but attempts to read their minds.  She’s a real tomboy, wears Doc Martens, and is incredibly athletic.  She is still mourning the loss of her husband, a paramedic who was killed in a helicopter accident a few years ago.


Full use is made of the spectacular backdrop of San Francisco.  Jo is called out by Lieutenant Amy Tang to a serious traffic accident at the Stockton Tunnel.  This accident has already been described to us in graphic detail through the eyes of Patrolman Pablo Cruz.  A BMW has hit the railing above the tunnel at full speed.  The two women in the car are believed dead.  The driver is a very well known prosecution lawyer, Callie Harding, who is as beautiful as she is clever.  When Jo approaches the car, the passenger, who apparently was trying to jump out of the car immediately prior to the crash, blinks.  Jo calls the paramedics into action and the young woman, who worked with Callie at the Attorney’s Office, is rushed off to hospital. 


Jo meets up with Amy Tang, a tough cookie who explains that she is investigating an outfit called The Dirty Secrets Club, whose members, all from the high-flying elite, apparently set one another sensational dares in order to move into the higher echelons of the club.  Amy needs Jo’s psychiatric experience to help unmask the members of this club, some of whom have died in mysterious circumstances.  She gives her 48 hours.


Jo discovers that Callie Harding was a member of the club.  The plot thickens when a famous sporting celebrity commits suicide by leaping off the San Francisco Bay Bridge during rush hour.  Someone is running a vendetta against the members of The Dirty Secrets Club.  The readers are told who he is, but none of the reasons why.


The action gets faster and ever more furious, including the odd earthquake.  If this kind of thing is your bag, enjoy it.  By the way, don’t forget the monkey, who has more brains than the rest of them put together.

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