PAINTED SKINS by Matt Hilton


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The disappearance of a young woman old enough to know better but who probably doesn’t leads Portland private eye Tess Grey and Nicolas "Po" Villere, her operative and lover (Blood Tracks, 2015), into a wildly tangled thicket of felonies.

There’s no reason why anyone should report Jasmine Reed missing, even after 16 days. Jazz is 24, on her own, and gainfully employed as a bartender at the Bar-Lesque, whose manager, Maxwell Carter, blandly assures Tess and Po that it’s not a strip club. But Jazz’s grandmother, Margaret Norris, is concerned because the girl has a history of running away, although her grandmother clearly doesn’t want to talk about why. Although Tess and Po fail to make much headway, they soon notice that they aren’t the only ones looking for Jazz. John Trojak, a dim, gentlemanly bit of muscle whose cousin, Daryl Bruin, owns the Bar-Lesque, follows them dutifully around their corner of Maine asking questions about Jazz. And there’s someone else on her trail, someone just as violently inclined as Trojak but a lot less genteel. With some help from Pinky Leclerc, a friend visiting Po from Baton Rouge, Tess and Po eventually uncover the story of Jazz’s childhood, which is so horrible and sad that they can see what she was running away from. What they can’t see—although Hilton obligingly gives his readers a peek—is that Jazz has been kidnapped by a seriously deranged man who really likes girls with scars and tattoos. And not just Jazz.

Rated R for sex, violence, sexual violence, and perhaps one too many violent rapists working independently and, indeed, at odds with each other. Now if only Hilton delivered the punch that breaking all those taboos would seem to promise.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8650-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2016


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