This is the story of the mystery surrounding the death of Roger Tomlinson, a real estate developer in the Tulsa area, whose flaws overwhelmed his talents. He was a man with many gifts but was also a man deeply scarred in his childhood. A “successful” businessman, Roger was a well-known philanderer and was considered to be ruthless in his business dealings. At the same time, he had a soft spot for children and invested a good deal of time and effort raising money for children’s causes.
Set in Tulsa, the story opens with the discovery of the body of Tomlinson. What appeared to be an accidental death was, in fact, a murder, and three homicide detectives, led by Detective Sergeant Mark Townsend, are charged with solving the crime. Mark Townsend defied the usual image of the “typical cop” and of the Tulsa Police Department. He had an outward demeanor and mode of dress that belied his intellect and investigative acumen. Townsend had earned a master’s degree in anthropology and saw detective work as something of an anthropological process.
A few days after the discovery of Tomlinson’s body, the body of a shrimp boat owner named Eddie Dorfmann washed up on shore near the small town of San Leon in Galveston County, Texas. The discovery of a body washed up on the shore could have been easily dismissed as an accidental drowning. However, due to the sharp eye a rookie sheriff’s deputy, and the instincts of Sheriff Hal Newman, it was quickly determined that this was no accident. The connection between these two murders is brought to light by a piece of evidence found at the Tomlinson murder scene as well as information discovered at Eddie Dorfmann’s house after his death.
Although there were a number of people with a motive to kill Roger Tomlinson, the initial suspect in his murder was his wife, LeAnn. The story she told the police did not coincide with evidence at the crime scene. However, Tomlinson was known as much for his philandering as for his philanthropy, and this opened the door to another cadre of suspects. While considered reasonably trustworthy by those with whom they did business, Tomlinson and his business partner at TM Development, Jay Munson, were also considered ruthless. During the murder investigation funds were discovered to have disappeared from TM Development accounts.
The narrative carries the reader through the interactions of those involved directly and indirectly in the investigations. Among those people was Josh Reynolds and Tim Clark, psychologists who were partners in a successful practice in Tulsa. LeAnn Tomlinson was one of Josh Reynolds’ clients, and Josh was struggling with some feelings for LeAnn that represented unacceptable violations of his professional ethic. Tim Clark who earned his Ph.D. after a stint as an officer in the Navy, struggled at times as a minority in a profession dominated by white males. Tim also occasionally acted as a consultant with the Tulsa Police Department. Josh, Tim and Mark Townsend were friends who often spent time together, and enjoyed discussing issues related to their respective professions.