Walt Fleming is a small-town sheriff, but Quantico-trained and unusually competent. We're given to understand this in the prologue to Killer Weekend, when Walt pieces together clues anyone else might have overlooked and saves the life of Liz Shaler, the Attorney General of New York State, who maintains a second home in Idaho's Sun Valley. Eight years later Shaler is set to announce her candidacy for the presidency at a conference at the Sun Valley Inn. The event would be a logistical nightmare for Walt and his staff under the best of conditions. But he has reason to believe that Shaler is being targeted by an assassin who will make his move when she makes her announcement.
Pearson tells his story from Walt's perspective as well as the assassin's. Milav Trevalian is himself supremely competent at his job. One admires, despite the nature of the task, his painstaking preparations for the kill. Interestingly, he turns out to be a relatively likable character, both because of his professionalism and because, despite his resumé, he shows moments of humanity. Indeed, his humanity turns out to be his Achilles heel.
Unfortunately, Trevalian's motivation is never explored. We never learn why Shaler is in his crosshairs or what the stakes are for him personally. There are other loose ends. Walt's brother is dead, for example, and Pearson hints at deeper issues connected with his death, but we're never told the story. Finally, the book's prologue--in which Walt saves Shaler's life for the first time--makes promises that are never fulfilled. Pearson puts the proverbial gun on the mantle in act one when he describes the means by which that night's intruder enters Shaler's home. Readers expecting that gun to go off by the book's end, however, will wait in vain.
Pearson's principal characters, both good guys and bad, are interesting enough to make us want to read on. The story becomes more complex the deeper into the book we get. The writing doesn't distract from the plot. And the short chapters go by fast enough. Killer Weekend never quite becomes an edge-of-your-seat thriller. But it's a near miss.
-- Debra Hamel