A young woman, with the help of her family and friends, confronts past dangers and a new string of mysteries in Hart’s (Moving On, 2013, etc.) latest installment of the Old Pueblo series.
Two boys who attend principal Samantha Ryan’s Arizona elementary school go missing, and the mother of one of the boys asks her to help find them. As she begins her investigations, she realizes that another student, Natalie Yates, may be involved when the girl comes to school with a broken rotator cuff. The girl reveals that one of the missing boys has a drunken, abusive father, and that the other one was trying to help his friend. Ryan and others respond to these revelations, become involved in a shootout, and uncover a child pornography operation. Then Ryan’s husband Thomas’ former boss kidnaps her grandfather, and a drug kingpin gets into the mix. Meanwhile, Ryan is pregnant, in the process of adopting two little girls, and testifying against a man who nearly killed her husband (in the last book). This novel’s mind-spinning action and large cast of characters may lead to some confusion, although there’s a helpful who’s-who list at the start. At points, the detailed dialogue takes away from the ongoing plot; for example, Thomas speaks with his friend, a police detective, about the children’s health but then goes on a tangent about the wonders of stem cell treatments in modern medicine. At other times, though, detail is surprisingly lacking: “They mentioned a few things that concerned me but after a discussion, I was fine with their suggestions,” Ryan thinks, regarding a legal strategy. That said, the storyline moves swiftly from crime to crime and plot point to plot point. Ryan shows her determination to defend those who can’t defend themselves, even when putting herself and her unborn child in the line of fire. There are plenty of hints that readers can expect another installment in this series.
A fast-paced, if uneven, mystery about protecting familial bonds.