In Orlo’s (The Christmas Cougar, 2015, etc.) thriller, a Montana cop hunts his partner’s assailant.
Lt. Thomas Catlin is all set for his San Diego vacation. After all, he and partner Sgt. Delores Delaney have just nabbed an elusive criminal, and because he still doesn’t know why girlfriend Suzanne Oberton isn’t speaking to him, Catlin could definitely use a break. His getaway is cut short when Suzanne calls to tell him someone gunned down Delaney at her apartment. The sergeant’s still alive but only barely, and Catlin’s determined to find her attacker. After he digs into Delaney’s cases, the lieutenant realizes that a hit was ordered, and his search widens to include both the shooter and his employer. This involves questioning a few seedy individuals. As he navigates this underworld, Catlin’s own ethics begin to crumble; he punches a man at the police station when his lawyer’s out of the room. Not surprisingly, it isn’t long before the bad guys target him, too. Orlo rarely misses an opportunity to inject action into his plotlines. The novel opens with Catlin and Delaney at the hotel room of a sure-to-be-armed suspect, and even scenes without baddies or guns are frantic, such as Catlin getting from California back to Missoula as quickly as possible. Though Catlin’s method of investigation entails too much machismo, this mystery is delightfully enigmatic. Technology plays a significant role; Catlin often relies on “gadget geek” Matthew. Unfortunately, tech-relevant descriptions are either off-kilter or superfluous: Catlin, in a return text, “poked into the reply space,” while Matthew later tells the cop how to play a DVD (“Just stick it in your disk drive, and it’ll start to play”).
An absorbing investigation energizes both the plot and the tough-guy lead.