Frank Corso, a renegade journalist with a conscience and a penchant for solitude, makes a winning debut in this new series from the author of the Leo Waterman novels (The Bum's Rush, etc.). Booted out of New York City and nearly out of journalism because of a nasty libel suit, Corso is taken on by the third-rate Seattle Sun and its proprietor, the steely Natalie Van Der Hoven. One of Frank's early pieces for the Sun examined the investigation of the "Trashman" crimes, a series of gruesome rapes and murders. The suspect, Walter Leroy Himes, was unsavory enough, but Corso wasn't convinced that he was the Trashman. Now Himes's execution date is fast approaching, and his principal accuser suddenly reveals that she was badgered into fingering Himes. As soon as Corso asks a question or two around the Seattle police department, the whole place starts alternately squirming and blustering. Corso enlists Meg Dougherty, a freelance photographer with legal training, as his assistant. Meg is covered head to toe with bizarre tattoos, thanks to a malicious boyfriend and one night of drugged sleep. More importantly, she's sharp and tough. Instead of ending with the pair sniffing out the real Trashman, Ford tweaks his tale a few more times, with missing evidence, secret lovers and a parent gone mad with grief. There's a love story here, too, tender and solid, that sneaks up on the reader and on the couple in question. Only a master could serve up such a fine story and then some. (May 1)
Forecast:With a blurb from Harlan Coben, plus the popularity of the six Leo Waterman novels, this one could push Ford onto mystery bestseller charts.