The moment you think you have the latest Valerie Hart thriller figured out, Saul Black takes the narrative in a new and stunning direction. Exquisitely plotted, this police procedural unravels with the deftness and striking prose that Black fans have come to expect.
The plot of Anything For You hinges on the personal dysfunctions of two women who occupy vastly different spaces—one a homicide detective and one a killer—but feel remarkably alike in their intelligence and canny ability to read others. Valerie Hart is a seasoned homicide investigator with the San Francisco Police Department, and she’s working to stifle her self-destructive tendencies (booze, promiscuous sex and an addiction to work, to name a few) in order to make her marriage work. She’s even contemplating having a child; it's an idea that terrifies her as much as it excites her.
Valerie’s latest case is an example of how her personal life and work have become toxically entangled: The victim, prosecutor Adam Grant, once spent a night in her bed. Grant was brutally killed in his own home, with his wife barely surviving the attack. At first, it seems a cut-and-dry case in which a former inmate with a grudge against Grant is the perpetrator. But as Valerie digs deeper she learns that both Grant and the ex-con were linked by a mysterious escort known only as Sophia. Valerie knows she should remove herself from the case due to personal conflict, but she’s too invested to let go.
There’s an icy self-awareness and a self-deprecation to both Valerie and Sophia that helps them transcend typical femme fatale stereotypes. Black gives Sophia, in particular, a complex and sometimes unsettling back story that makes her feel like more of an anti-heroine than a villainess. By the time Valerie is closing in on her quarry, we are so invested in both of these characters, and in the incredibly intricate plot, that it is almost a disappointment to see the mystery solved. Black blends nuanced characters, immersive prose and complex plotlines so skillfully that it feels practically magical. When Valerie and Sophia finally meet face-to-face, readers will be breathless with anticipation and the promise of delicious secrets being revealed.