When Kate and her husband Ron went to a dinner party with their friends one night, they never suspected the results of such a harmless activity. Three couples had dinner and drinks, talked, then went home. A nice time was had by all. But in the days following, Kate could not stop thinking about Peter Ash with whom she’d only spoken a few words at the party. She followed up a couple of weeks later with a phone call and a deliberate invitation to him to join her at a luxurious hotel in San Francisco near his office, ostensibly to discuss some legal work she had for him.
In the days that followed their brief affair, Kate didn’t really think much about what had happened, Peter was guilt-ridden, but also smitten with Kate. He tried to call her but she ignored him. One day when he went out for lunch he saw Kate and her best friend from college, Beth, sitting in the restaurant where he’d planned to eat. He decided to eat elsewhere and not force a confrontation and it likely saved his life, for just minutes later the building was attacked by terrorists who killed or wounded over a hundred and frightened the entire city.
Beth and Kate were wounded and Beth spent the months of her recovery kicking herself for not having her gun with her that day when she was eating lunch with Kate, thinking that she could have prevented some of the devastation if she had. Back at work, but not up to strength, a murder investigation begins when a half-eaten body washes up on the beach and is eventually identified as a man named Peter Ash.
Beth and her partner discover that something changed Peter from a loving husband and father to an irresponsible womanizer and drinker right around the time of the terrorist attack. His wife, Jill, doesn’t understand what happened, but Peter moved into an apartment and lived for pleasure from then on. As Beth moves toward the realization that somehow her friend, Kate, may have been part of this change, their relationship takes on an edge and Beth realizes that she may have problems seeing things clearly in the case. Then one of Peter’s friends and a possible suspect also ends up dead and Beth knows that things are even worse than she thought.
John Lescroart, in this stand-alone novel, “Fatal,” has written a compelling story of betrayal and heartache as a result of a few decisions that made a big difference to many people. The story does not end neatly and the reader understands that the consequences of these decisions will continue to haunt those involved for the rest of their lives.