This sixth installment of a series features the ongoing adventures of a British cop.
For the past three years, Yorkshire-born expatriate Cole Thornton has run a bookshop in the sleepy surfer town of Shelter Cove, California. If the store is notable for anything, it’s for being one of the few businesses not yet bought by local land developer Arlo Rankoff. One day, a car crashes through the window of the shop, destroying Cole’s inventory and nearly killing motel owner and auxiliary police deputy Holly West, who came in to flirt with the Englishman. When Cole gets up and looks into the cab of the vehicle, all that’s left of the driver is his foot on the gas pedal. Soon Ben Gardner, Shelter Cove’s chief of police, arrives. He turns out to be angrier at Cole than at the surf bum he assumes to have driven the car. Gardner feels protective of Holly, the survivor of an abusive marriage, and he senses there’s something fishy going on with Cole. Gardner looks into the missing driver, who soon turns up dead. But Cole has bigger troubles to deal with: He hears that his violent, estranged younger brother, British cop Jim Grant, has been looking for him to settle some old business. First Cole’s ex–sister-in-law drops by to warn him, and then the dangerous man himself appears—out to bring his older brother to justice. Campbell (Beacon Hill, 2017, etc.) writes in a gracefully muscular prose enlivened by drolly cinematic dialogue: “ ‘I keep forgetting this is a litigious society. Poodle power.’ ‘You mean the woman dried her dog in the microwave?’ Cole raised his eyebrows. ‘What was General Electric thinking? Not putting that in the instructions.’ ‘I think it was a Samsung.’ ” The author excels at hiding the ball while still keeping readers invested in the story. It takes a while for Grant to show up, let alone for the main thrust of the plot to be revealed, but such inventive narrative strategies help Campbell keep his series fresh as it moves into its latest volume.
A tightly written and thoroughly engaging crime tale.