The LAPD’s Davie Richards deals with the aftermath of a police-involved shooting by investigating a serial killing.
The shooting of retired Army Ranger Zeke Woodrow in a parking garage just outside LAX seems at first like a one-off. But as Davie and her partner, Jason Vaughn, start to probe the murder, they uncover a pattern too odd to be coincidental. Juno Karst, a fellow Ranger from Zeke’s Vietnam days—and now a fellow contractor for TidePool Security Consultants—is found outside Las Vegas with a bullet through his head. The local sheriff tags it a suicide, but Davie isn’t buying it, and she’s alarmed enough to reach out to a third member of the Ranger unit, Harlan Cormack, who lives off the grid in a trailer in the Mohave Desert. She arrives at Harlan’s trailer out in the desert too late to stop a third killing. But as she races to stop the mayhem, Davie begins to shed the protective layers she’d built up after she killed a suspect to save a fellow officer (Pacific Homicide, 2016). She accepts her partner’s offers to share a meal or a drink after-hours. She casts an approving eye over steely Jon Striker of Homicide Special Section, where she and Vaughn are eventually detailed. She even opens her home to Hootch, Zeke’s cat. But her greatest leap forward is being able to understand the tie that bound Zeke, Juno, Harlan, and the fourth member of their squad, Dag Lunds, into a band of brothers whose loyalty to each other reaches past the grave.
The creator of amateur sleuth Tucker Sinclair (Short Change, 2007, etc.) re-ups her tough-girl cred. Despite an egregious blunder on the subject of genetics, Smiley’s second LAPD entry moves the plot as deftly as she moves the reader, with lots of action and just enough heart.