Two FBI agents’ A-team status is put to the test when they take over the hunt for a serial killer in this novel.
Elizabeth Hanson gets results. That’s why she is her FBI boss’s “go-to agent for tough cases.” Hanson is sick of the arrangement, but her partner, Bob Parks, three years out of Quantico and 11 years her junior, loves it. He refers to their alliance as the A-team, “which was starting to be a bone of contention with the other agents.” Following an arrest in an identity theft case, Hanson is put in charge of the Metro Area Serial Killer probe. All of the victims were killed at home; all of the homes were broken into; and all of the women were raped and murdered in their bedrooms. Except one, and that break in the predator’s pattern throws the A-team off its game. Orlo (Rampage in Missoula, 2016) admirably avoids some of the clichés of the crime/procedural genre that plague a female protagonist. First, Hanson is a highly regarded agent and so readers are spared scenes where she is disrespected by sexist cops. “Neither Carlson nor I have any problem working…for you, Agent Hanson,” one officer tells her. “You know that. Remember the Gomez case a couple of years ago?” Second, while Hanson is devoted to her job at the expense of a romantic life, the case does not afford her the opportunity to find a new man in her life. Third, her relationship with Parks is a mutual admiration society: “He looked up to her”; “Hanson liked Parks…he took direction from her without question.” But sentences such as “Sammy was one of those rare people whom you only meet once in a great while” suffer from redundancy. Likewise, the crackerjack opening sentence—“Special Agent Elizabeth Hanson started pushing the wheelchair with her phony dad”—loses its punch as the author keeps repeating the phrase “phony dad.” Hanson is a skilled investigator and a strong character who warrants sharper prose. In addition, a late plot development seems arbitrary, as does the personal information theme.
A serviceable thriller with decent twists and a worthy protagonist.