Murder at the CDC

Capital Crimes, Book #32

By Margaret Truman, Jon Land

ISBN: 9781250238894

Author Website: jonlandbooks(.)com

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


Murder and intrigue on the steps of the United States capital building pulls Robert Brixton into his most personal case yet!

2017: A military transport on a secret run to dispose of its deadly contents vanishes without a trace.

The present: A mass shooting on the steps of the Capitol nearly claims the life of Robert Brixton’s grandson.

No stranger to high-stakes investigations, Brixton embarks on a trail to uncover the motive behind the shooting. On the way he finds himself probing the attempted murder of the daughter his best friend, who works at the Washington offices of the CDC.

The connection between the mass shooting and Alexandra’s poisoning lies in that long-lost military transport that has been recovered by forces determined to change America forever. Those forces are led by radical separatist leader Deacon Frank Wilhyte, whose goal is nothing short of bringing on a second Civil War.

Brixton joins forces with Kelly Lofton, a former Baltimore homicide detective. She has her own reasons for wanting to find the truth behind the shooting on the Capitol steps, and is the only person with the direct knowledge Brixton needs. But chasing the truth places them in the cross-hairs of both Wilhyte’s legions and his Washington enablers.


Events in this volatile, totally unpredictable thriller could almost be ripped from today’s headlines. It is a fast-paced and riveting read that I enjoyed from beginning to end. Some scenes were edge-of-the seat frightening, but what truly scared me is how it could really happen. I am relatively new to this series and found sufficient background on people and events to be comfortable with Robert Brixton and Mac Smith. These and other characters are three-dimensional, and descriptions of their surroundings at any given time drew me further into the action.

Robert Brixton is an international private investigator who now works primarily for the legal firm of best friend Mac Smith, one of DC’s finest criminal attorneys. He has many years of experience in highly classified areas of government and a strong sense of justice, especially when it comes to his friends.

Mac learns he has a twenty-five-year-old daughter after her mother passed away and she found his name in her mother’s documents. His first wife and only child were killed in a car accident years earlier, so learning about and meeting Alexandra was especially amazing. Mac asked Brixton to meet Alexandra and give his honest thoughts about her. He is concerned, also, as she seemed troubled about something.

They meet for a late lunch and Brixton is convinced that Alexandra is the real thing. She resembles Mac, right down to the same unusual eye color. She works at the DC office of the CDC, mostly answering congressional requests for information. She mentioned concerns about a call she received recently that was so crazy it could be true and, if so, it terrified her. Confidentiality keeps her from giving specifics, so he suggested how she could proceed. Alexandra now calls her dad’s best friend Uncle Robert.

While they were at lunch, a shooter opened fire at the steps of the Capitol building where students on a tour from an area high school were. In less than a minute, seventeen people died, seven of them students. Another student died shortly afterwards, and many were injured. Brixton had missed calls from his daughter Margo; her son Max was with the school group at the Capitol and didn’t answer his phone. Brixton had lost one daughter to a terrorist bombing in DC. He ran to the Capitol, afraid of losing his grandson, too.

Kelly, a Capitol Police officer working a protection detail, was leaving after the all-clear was given. She sat on an outdoor bench for a few minutes. The woman on the bench was talking to herself, including “I could have stopped it and didn’t.” Kelly turned to help an officer break up a situation that was heating up; when she turned back, the woman was gone. She had dropped many papers from her purse, so Kelly collected and took them home rather than to her boss, wanting to follow up on what she finds.

The following day, Mac was contacted by Walter Reed Hospital. Alexandra was there, unconscious. She had been meeting with her supervisor when they both took ill. Her supervisor didn’t make it. They had been poisoned and doctors could not determine the toxin so they could treat her. It was eerily reminiscent of the recent deaths of seven boys at a Baltimore high school, where the cause was undetermined.

Characters are described primarily through dialog, actions, and pertinent backstory. We also get to know the bad guys, a little at a time. I appreciated how new acquaintances Robert and Kelly worked in concert to put together seemingly unrelated events with valuable help from one of Robert’s old contacts.  I found the descriptions of the past secret government positions held by Brixton and others to be interesting, including how they coped with their duties. 

Robert had stated: “Sometimes you don’t know how far you’ve fallen until you can’t look up and see the light anymore.” Some people in this thriller, like him, could rise above how far they had fallen, others couldn’t, or wouldn’t. I was saddened by how some of those who enacted violence on others had once been victims themselves. Despite having met some of the bad guys, there is still an explosive, surprising resolution! The end is as satisfactory as the rest of the novel. I absolutely enjoyed this thriller from beginning to end and highly recommend it!