The dead man’s ID says his name is James Putnam. The unfortunate victim of a motor vehicle accident, Putnam was killed instantly on the highway when an oncoming car jumped the divider and plowed head-on into his Porsche.
The problem is that James Putnam has been dead for 15 years.
The aptly titled The Guise of Another, the second thriller from Allen Eskens, shifts into high gear as police detective Alexander Rupert of the Minneapolis Frauds Unit begins a search for the real story: not only for the real James Putnam, but for the reason someone has been impersonating him. The detective uses a cache of letters to discover the imposter’s name, and then tracks both “Putnams” to New Jersey and their former incarnations as college roommates. Alexander works with his brother, Max, a fellow police detective, as the case spirals out from identity theft to a convoluted maze of corruption and crime at the highest levels.
Alexander connects the case to a 15-year-old event involving blackmail and murder aboard a corporate yacht. But uncovering this violent event sends Alexander down a dangerous path. Drago Basta, a powerful assassin working with giant defense contractor Patrio International, is intricately involved with the yacht explosion, and he emerges from the shadows to follow the detective’s every move.
Alexander is no simple character himself, as he tries to counter charges of police corruption leveled against him as well as his police colleagues, triggering his move from narcotics to fraud. And there seems to be no lack of trouble involving the women in his life: Desiree, his faithless wife; Billie, a savvy New York cop whose initiative puts her in jeopardy; and Ianna, who possesses the means to overturn the criminals’ advantage.
Poor editing and lapses in style hinder a smooth read, but The Guise of Another moves at top speed, and although it’s a skin-deep thriller, there are enough plot twists to keep readers absorbed, right through the surprising epilogue.