A retired cop must unravel a gritty mystery before assassins hired to kill her finish the job.
Allison Baca’s abrupt retirement from the San Francisco police was newsworthy enough; the local media enjoyed dealing with the beautiful, talented spokesperson. But Allison soon makes the news for another reason—killing her attempted murderer in her living room. Recovering from her injuries at her parents’ home, Allison investigates the link between her attack and an earlier meeting with a pedophile developer, Paul Albert, who expressed interest in hiring her as a private investigator. Allison’s gruesome discovery, quickly followed by a second attempt on her life, draws her former boss—and the principal reason for her resignation—Lt. Phillip McCarthy deeper into the case, and into Allison’s life. In a decision that will raise warning flags in the mind of anyone who has ever seen a horror movie, McCarthy, Allison and her father Ross travel to the family’s remote mountain cabin (with limited cell coverage) for Allison’s protection. Unbeknownst to them, Allison’s third potential hitman is very familiar with the area and seems destined to meet with success. Told from multiple points of view, the novel is an engrossing, fast-paced page-turner. Smith even manages to imbue the hitmen with sympathetic qualities. Smith touches upon many seamier aspects of 21st century crime—pedophilia, human trafficking, meth addiction and Aryan gangs—Smith doesn’t lose touch with of a traditional mystery/thriller. Portions of the plot may require some suspension of disbelief; it’s never clear how Allison and McCarthy transition so quickly from adversaries to potential lovers, for example. But Smith demonstrates such skill in building suspense, such as when Ross and McCarthy’s dithering on their approach to the cabin leaves Allison vulnerable, that readers will be captivated regardless.
Thrilling addition to the field of mystery series featuring strong female protagonists; hopefully, Allison Baca’s future cases will be as enjoyable as this one.