Second Lieutenant Evan Scholler has been called up for duty in Iraq, and a more naive individual with less common sense you’d be hard pressed to find. That he is way out of his league is instantly apparent to defense contractor Ron Nolan, who befriends him and starts him on the path of heavy drinking to cope with the stress. When Nolan must return to the States on business, Evan asks his good buddy to check in with former girlfriend Tara, who has not been answering his distraught letters. She’s beautiful, and Nolan can’t resist sabotaging Evan’s hopes and moving in on her himself.
In Ron Nolan, John Lescroart has created one of the most dastardly (how often do you get to use that word?) villains ever to appear in a mystery novel. Charming and personable, he’s able to dupe people into thinking what a nice, capable guy he is. At the very least, however, he’s sociopathic, and his cold blooded ability to commit murders of convenience and to kill for fun suggest full blown psychopathy. Nolan will, it seems, do anything for money, and he’s more than happy to destroy Evan’s life to get what he wants. It’s Evan’s own fault for being so stupid, right? Almost too easy. Almost as easy as stealing millions from the U.S. government.
The Nolan character carries this novel singlehandedly, with Glitsky and Hardy, the series stars, playing minor roles that begin only when called upon to handle a trial involving Nolan and Scholler. Reading Betrayal is a fascinating experience, akin to watching a pet boa constrictor toy with, then devour, his meal.