Jeremy Hart, Senior Prosecutor for the California DA’s office based in Los Angeles appears to have it all – the life one would dream of – a good paying, high ranking position in the State Government, the semi-luxurious lifestyle, and freedom. However, it is all a façade, yes he has the job, the car, the house in a gated community, but his life is missing something – a widower of two years he feels empty – his life without his ‘Lizzie’ is lacking the “shine” so to speak. Without her he feels there’s a hole in his heart – one he is unsure anyone can fill…that is until his therapist, Dr. Shari Bauer, gives him a ticket to a black-tied fundraiser for the hospital in hopes that he will at least be open to the possibility of meeting new people.
Claire Carleton, former model who definitely has the LA Lifestyle you only read about in magazines, the money, the luxury, a husband, and two perfect children. But like Jeremy’s life, and something you then turn around and read about in a book or even worst a newspaper obit, her life is not what it seems. Claire’s a prisoner in her own life, her husband, Peter Carlton, is an abuser- violent, controlling and extremely jealous. On the night of the benefit Dr. Bauer gave Jeremy a ticket to he meets Claire – at first it’s just a dance, then a conversation, which then turns into an affair. Eventually Peter finds out about the affair and ‘punishes’ Claire in his own violent manner. Claire then reveals to Jeremy that she believes Peter is planning on killing her on a ‘vacation’ he’s planning.
On the same night she makes this revelation Peter turns up murdered in his own driveway…now it’s up to the LAPD’s best of the best, Ulysseus “Gibby” Gibson and his partner, Jennifer Donohue to figure out the why, what and most importantly the Who of the situation. Just as they think they have everything figure out the case gets turned on its head. Who really committed the murder? Is someone else being framed? And how does this case intersect with Lizzie’s death two years prior? It seems every player has their own Hidden Agenda.
A very intriguing read, Peter Berman pulls you in from the word “Go” And, yet he never truly reveals everything all at once – he instead chooses to hint at how everything will play out until the last several chapters of the book, when the question of how does everything intersect is finally answered. Even then, not all of the questions the reader has will be answered. I have to say, outside of James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series I have not read many mystery novels, yet I was pulled in immediately and did my best not to ‘see the trees for the woods’ – I tried instead to read between the lines, however the twists and turns this story took me on kept interrupting my line of thought, which then caused me to re-think where I was going with it. And, that is why I was so intrigued by the book, in fact so much so, that I could not put it down – I just had to know how it was going to play out.
The only downside I saw was not getting all of my questions answered. The story did slow at times causing me to get lost in the technical details of the investigation, and the brainstorming sessions Gibby and Jen would have – but otherwise the author pulled me back in and the pace of the story picked right back up again. I highly suggest setting aside a large block of time to read Hidden Agenda you will need it.