A teenager with aspirations to be a police officer looks into the case of a missing woman in the latest, prequel installment of Greyson’s (Pure of Heart, 2015, etc.) thriller series.
Foster brothers Jack Stratton and Chandler Carter each have three months before they enlist in the Army, and they intend to follow their two years of service with stints in college and the Police Academy. Jack wants to enjoy his last summer, but financial analyst Stacy Shaw’s unexplained disappearance changes his plan. He doesn’t know her, but he does know “J-Dog,” aka Jay Martin, whom cops arrested after he admitted to finding the woman’s wallet. Although Jack and Jay, foster kids who grew up together, aren’t currently on friendly terms, their former foster mother, Aunt Haddie, enlists Jack’s help. He compiles a wide range of suspects, from a crazy, homeless man known as Vlad to Stacy’s lascivious boss, Leland Chambers. Fortunately, Chandler willingly sits with Jack during his stakeouts. Decidedly less fortunate is Detective Lyle Vargas, who believes that Jack is impeding a police investigation and threatens Jack’s future career by casually accusing him of crimes such as planting evidence. Jack will have to steer clear of the detective to solve the case, unless he’s prepared to wind up in prison with J-Dog. Despite the protagonist’s age, Greyson’s story isn’t in the young-adult genre. Jack is actually at the tail end of his teens, and this book chronologically takes place before a series featuring Jack as an adult detective. Greyson adeptly establishes Jack’s personal life while also reminding readers of the mystery; Jack’s date with a delightful young woman named Kelly, for example, begins with a news report about Stacy and later leads to the couple witnessing Jay’s arrest. The sound mystery brims with red herrings, and quite a few of Jack’s hunches miss the mark even though he bases his guesses on evidence. The book also shows Jack pragmatically investigating by perusing Facebook pages and doing old-fashioned footwork. The narrative explores darker territory—including drugs, prostitution, and possible murder—but doesn’t fully immerse itself in it, and there’s hardly any vulgar language aside from perhaps too many utterances of the word “crap.”
A tale of an amateur detective who’s bright and riveting even when he makes mistakes.