cover image The Liar’s Lullaby

The Liar’s Lullaby

Meg Gardiner. Dutton, $25.95 (353pp) ISBN 978-0-525-95172-8

Jo Beckett investigates a national security threat in Edgar-winner Gardiner’s absorbing third thriller to feature the San Francisco forensic psychiatrist (after The Memory Collector ). When troubled country singer Tasia McFarland—who happens to be the U.S. president’s ex-wife—dies of a gunshot wound to the neck during a stunt that goes awry at a huge outdoor concert, Jo’s SFPD friend, Lt. Amy Tang, asks Jo to help determine whether Tasia, who fired a Colt .45 automatic as part of the stunt, shot herself or was shot by an assassin. The ballistics are inconclusive. As Jo looks into the sordid details of Tasia’s life, an antigovernment extremist, Tom Paine, who runs a conspiracy-fueled Web site called Tree of Liberty, accuses people in the government—in particular, President Robert McFarland—of orchestrating Tasia’s death and demands punishment for those responsible. Despite the broad scope of Jo’s inquiry, Gardiner mostly manages to keep the far-reaching plot on course. (June)