Although Koski saved his friends and their family in Checkmate (2011), this second novel has him kicked off the Cheyenne, Wyoming, police force by his vindictive superior shortly after it begins. With few options, he sets up a private investigation business, and hopes for the best with his newly acquired police dog, Sinbad. Melody Patten, referred to Koski by a friend, hires him to mediate a conflict between her young daughter, Angela, and her former teacher, Collin Lanaski, who’s stalking her. Lanaski is convinced that Angela is his missing-and-presumed-dead daughter Courtney, and threatens to take her away from the Pattens, accusing them of child abuse. Koski, glad to have the business, tries to intervene as best he can before the situation gets out of hand. With Sinbad in tow, he looks to a psychic for help with the case, all the while navigating life as a self-employed detective. Hackensmith is skilled at moving the plot along, and the story is often entertaining. However, readers may find the characters rather thin. Koski, despite his years of experience on the force, doesn’t seem to be a particularly competent detective, and he makes grave errors and oversights; he notably doesn’t anticipate how far Lanaski will go. Koski’s playboy persona, meanwhile, is neither novel nor appealing; his descriptions of a woman in terms of her “ample bosom” and “pert…behind” hint that Koski may be paying attention to the wrong details. Furthermore, the crimes, once fully revealed, prove to be especially far-fetched. Readers won’t be comforted that child abuse, murder and kidnapping could be solved by an eager private investigator; instead, they may be disturbed that these transgressions could go unsolved for so long.
A sincere but undistinguished thriller.