Donovan’s (Behind Closed Doors, 2013) second adventure of hard-boiled Eddie Flynn is a story steeped in the harsh realities of kidnapping, tabloid journalism, and good old-fashioned detective work.
The media circus around the Barber family has lasted nearly two years by the time the investigators of the Eagle Eye Detective Agency get involved, but just how the spectacle started remains a mystery. Are the Barbers victims of a horrible crime—the tragic kidnapping of their young daughter—or are they monsters, profiting from a nationwide hoax? Between Eddie Flynn, an ex-cop who can’t resist the promise of real detective work; Sean Shaughnessy, a former Special Forces tough with a nose for trouble; Lucy, their gossipy, loud, and surprisingly resourceful office admin; and a few other helpers and hangers-on, the agency has a better shot than most at cracking the case. Plus, the money, curiosity, and challenge are too much to pass up. Characters, defined mostly in broad strokes, won’t jump out to new readers, but the depth of the mystery more than makes up for it. The Barbers’ tragedy has created fortunes for some and no end of rage in others, leaving plenty of profiteers and malcontents; some might try to bring about their own idea of vigilante justice, while others hope to keep the misery—i.e., profit—flowing. Along with inconsistencies in the Barbers’ own story, the evidence against them ranges from concerning to outright damning. Flynn’s job is a tightrope walk, and it only becomes more difficult for him to protect his clients as evidence mounts on both sides. Do they deserve his help or the gallows? Genre fans will enjoy the multifaceted mystery, which will likely continue in a sequel.
A slick, dynamic mystery that confronts readers with just how many sides a story can have before we get to what matters: the truth.