AMOS Decker is all too familiar with loss.
First went his social graces, his tolerance and his ability to empathise, wrenched from him in an instant by a near-fatal football concussion that left in their place a photographic memory and an abnormally heightened awareness of death.
The athletic ability that had carried Decker all the way to the NFL deserted him shortly thereafter.
Then, most cruelly of all, his wife and daughter were murdered in their home, prompting the small-town homicide detective to move away from Ohio and join the FBI.
These days the closest thing he has to friends are his colleague and housemate, Alex Jamison, and a former All-American running back whose life he helped to save after the man had spent 20 years awaiting execution for someone else’s crime.
Now another family is being crippled by grief.
Directly in front of Decker as he walks to his office one morning, within sight of the FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, government contractor, husband and father Walter Dabney withdraws a handgun from his briefcase, shoots an apparent stranger in the head at close range and then kills himself.
Decker’s FBI taskforce is assigned to investigate, challenged to uncover anything in Dabney’s recent past that might have prompted this seemingly uncharacteristic murder-suicide.
Could his classified work for the Defense Department have contributed to his bizarre behaviour? What secrets might he have learned in the course of his work?
As the jigsaw of clues is slotted together, it becomes apparent that Dabney was involved in significantly more than simply manufacturing.
But what role, if any, did the dead woman play? How did she, a part-time teacher whose identity can be traced back no more than a decade, afford a penthouse apartment and a late-model sportscar?
Were Dabney and his victim, Anne Berkshire, somehow linked?