"A gripping, fast-moving and emotionally charged drama centered on well-drawn characters with genuine motives."– Kirkus Reviews
Brenham’s fast-paced police drama juggles a number of narrative lines and disparate characters.
The thriller opens with Austin Police Detective Jason Scarsdale staring down the black barrel of his service revolver, contemplating the blackness of existence since the death of his wife. Scarsdale, part of the department’s sex crime unit, opts for life. He continues to work on the many cases his superiors dump on his desk, and he vows to himself to become both father and mother to his daughter, Shannon. Brenham nimbly moves the plot along by introducing his second main character and switching to her point of view, a technique that enhances both characterization and perspective. Dani Mueller, aka Karla Engel, a crime analyst for the Austin Police Department, is a woman with a mission and a dark secret. Scarsdale’s investigations into two homicides take him into the seedy world of child pornography (where he runs afoul of his superiors), where a variety of lowlifes and petty criminals are all linked by a mysterious figure known only as the CEO. As the action heats up, so does his relationship with Mueller. Though their tragic backgrounds (the loss of his wife and her daughter) tend to draw them together, each has reason to keep a healthy professional distance. At the same time, Mueller’s secret threatens to undo both her life and Scarsdale’s investigation. The entire cast of characters—good and evil—is well-constructed and realistic, while the action-packed ending grows organically out of their varied personalities. So too does the emotional ending, which chooses intelligence over sentimentality.
A gripping, fast-moving and emotionally charged drama centered on well-drawn characters with genuine motives.
Kidnappers target a Texas detective in Brenham’s (Price of Justice, 2012) procedural thriller.
Young women are disappearing in the city of Temple, Texas, and Detective Matt Brady is convinced that it’s because someone is running a human-trafficking operation. At the same time, he’s on the outs with his girlfriend, and in the course of his investigation, he befriends veterinarian Tracy. However, it turns out that the villains responsible for the kidnappings have their sights set on her—and as Brady gets closer to the truth, they start gunning for him as well. The author delivers a rock-solid thriller that delves just as much into the bad guys’ lives as it does the good guys’. One huge reveal within the first 25 pages—the identity of the criminal boss—allows the story to focus more on the kidnappers themselves. Brady is a laudable, dedicated protagonist; even on his day off, he takes time to add a suspicious license plate number to his grocery list. He’s also personally invested in the case and looking for redemption since his last kidnapping case ended with the victim being killed. Brenham develops his supporting characters so well that some, despite their actions, become even more sympathetic than Brady: Chiles, one of the abductors, gives money to his sister and his nephew with Down syndrome; Chiles’ partner, Weaver, nearly panics when a victim-to-be too closely resembles his niece; and Crandall, a homeless man who witnessed a woman being snatched, regrets his estranged relationship with his son. There are times when Brady’s investigation seems a little too effortless; he declares every disappearance as a kidnapping, often with no witnesses or even signs of a struggle, and later, he’s assigned a murder that just happens to connect with everything else. But readers likely won’t care about these specifics, as once the villains sic a shadowy, terrifyingly meticulous hit man on Brady and Tracy, the book delivers multiple scenes of nail-biting intensity.
First-rate crime fiction for those who like their cops and criminals on a level playing field.