A recent murder stirs up a cop’s memories of being shot in the line of duty in Ball’s (A Wedding on Ladybug Farm, 2014, etc.) latest thriller.
Aggie Malone, the police chief of Dogleg Island, Florida, barely survived when Darrell Reichart shot her in the head two years ago. She now lives with a bullet lodged in her brain and worries about Darrell’s upcoming trial for his parents’ murders. However, Aggie has the support of her boyfriend, Capt. Ryan Grady, and her faithful companion, Flash, a border collie that was found at the murder scene. Aggie and Flash find a body in the trunk of a car they find in a lagoon, and it turns out that it has a connection to the Reichart killings. Soon Aggie finds herself recalling new details of her own shooting—including the fact that another person was there that night. Meanwhile, her investigation draws her closer and closer to a murderer who hasn’t finished killing quite yet. This is an ample murder mystery with an enthralling protagonist. The story slowly reveals Aggie’s recuperation in flashbacks, and these scenes pay dividends: her injury ultimately ignited her relationship with Grady, and her recurring visions eventually lead to the unraveling of the mystery. The four-legged titular character is endearing and indispensable, and Ball gives him a straightforward perspective: he thinks in basic terms, with Aggie’s safety always in the forefront of his mind. He’s a fine sidekick, and he may be a bit smarter than his human counterparts: he suggests (by barking) that Aggie question a potential witness and exposes (with more barking) a supposed accident as an attempted murder. Ball does such an outstanding job developing Aggie, Flash, and other characters, such as retired sheriff Jerome Bishop, that the murder case gets less attention and decidedly fewer pages. Indeed, readers will likely solve the mystery with relative ease—and wonder why Aggie doesn’t solve it with equal promptness.
One of this mystery’s investigators may be fluffy, but this thoroughly entertaining novel certainly isn’t.