The lives of several families violently collide in this crime thriller.
There are so many skeletons in the closets of Churchill’s (The 7th Victim, 2012) characters that the town of Bullhead City, Arizona, could be a boneyard. In any case, the Pennington sisters—FBI agent Amanda, cop Rachael, and Meg (“I’m a pistol, and going easy isn’t my style”)—certainly need to do a better job of vetting their friends and associates: Meg’s roommate tries to poison her, Rachael’s boyfriend’s partner chokes her unconscious, and Amanda is kidnapped by someone who turns out to be the brother of the killer who kidnapped and tortured Meg in Churchill’s previous novel. The killer’s sister—yet another bad seed—opines that she and her siblings went wrong due to a “[w]impy mother, mad father, no money. Throw in a little incest and a lot of physical abuse, and you’ve got it.” The Penningtons’ upbringing was relatively normal; however, their mother, Grace, has several shocking family secrets, as well as a tracking device implanted behind her ear. Over the course of the novel, the multiple storylines intersect and culminate in the discovery of a sex trafficking operation. The killer’s plan involves a mini-sub, a luxury super yacht, and 10 international billionaire playboys bidding on bikini-clad young women. Churchill shows that she can write action scenes well. However, they can sometimes become cartoonish, such as when a sister’s boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend drugs and kidnaps him; she gives him Viagra and has her way with him like “a bareback rider hanging on for the full eight seconds.” Indeed, the book’s violence never lets up, progressing from the alarming to the absurd. The author also uses kidnappings too often, and her characters seem to shake off physical trauma and emotional pain unreasonably fast. Still, it can be a joy ride at times to hang with these spunky, gun-toting Pennington gals—as well as those billionaire playboys.
A thriller for those who want more thrills than realism.